Jonah 1:4, “But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.”
Most of you know the story of Jonah. The guy who was swallowed by the big fish and lived in its belly for 3 days. He got there because the Lord asked him to go one place but he wanted to go another. And knowing he was disobeying God, he set out to “flee from Him.” It seems crazy for someone to attempt to run away from God – the Creator of the Universe, the omnipotent King of all kings, the Great I am. Is there anywhere we could go that He wouldn’t see us? Find us? Reach us? When we read the story of Jonah, we almost laugh at his stupidity; yet, even now, some of us are just like him.
Unsuspectingly, some of us justify our actions, even though we know they are in opposition to God’s word. We disguise sin as cultural norms, political correctness, and claim the God of today is not the God of yesterday. The world is a different place, we assert. I often wonder if Jonah was thinking the same thing. He probably felt he knew more about the people of his time than God; after all, he was in the here and now!
A young man came to my office many months ago. He wanted to get married. “Could I do the ceremony for him?” I knew he and his girlfriend had been living together for several years and I asked him about it.
“We have,” he said almost proudly. “We bought a house together and after 2 1/2 years we think its time to take the next steps.”
“The next steps?” I repeated. “You’ve never taken the first step.”
In order for me to marry him, I told him he would have to move out, live apart, abstain from intimate relations, and do it God’s way.
“Oh,” he smiled, “Pastor, nobody waits until marriage anymore.”
We’ve become a society of rule makers and rule breakers. If it doesn’t meet our agenda, we find some possible way around it. We lawyer it down; read between the lines; and make our own precedent. When I think about it, there is a little bit of Jonah in all of us.
Take God seriously. If there is something in your life you need to change, don’t wait another minute. Bring it to God in prayer. Make it right, before you, like Jonah, end up in the belly of a fish.