You Can’t Outrun the Presence of the LORD, Part 1

I have to say that Jonah is perhaps one of my favorite stories in the Bible, and so if you get the chance to read it, you totally should.

I love it because it’s vastly different from the little children’s Bible story that we are told as kids with the pretty pictures of a nice friendly blue whale apprehending a stressed, bewildered Jonah and holding him captive for three days to teach him a lesson.

The story goes deeper than that. It is a story of faith, and stubbornness, and half-rear-ended discipleship. In many ways it can be reflective of the modern day church, or at least my own faith journey, and perhaps your own.

Like you may know, Jonah is called to go to Nineveh to tell them to get their act right. But where does he go? He goes to Tarshish. He flees from the presence of the LORD. You ever try anything like that? God puts something on your heart, or tells you something, or calls you to something, and you think you can outrun it, or overwork around it, or ignore it? Ten-to-one says it didn’t work because, here’s the thing, you can’t outrun the presence of the LORD! God will always be with you.

So Jonah is headed to Tarshish or at least that’s where he thinks he is going. There is wind, and waves, and afraid sailors. Everyone thinks they are going to die. They draw lots and by chance the lot falls on JONAH. Go figure.

And Jonah, like any good Lutheran, has a great confession of faith here. In 1:9, he says, “I am a Hebrew, and I worship the LORD, the God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land.” And yet he is running from the God of all. He doesn’t get it. His confession of faith fails to line up with his actions.

Sometimes, I think as God’s people we can name who God is and what God has done and yet like Jonah have a hard time translating that into adherence and obedience to God’s word. We, like Jonah, can struggle living into the call that God places on our heart. And, yet, this is what God calls us to do.

So, here we are. Everyone on the boat freaking out for two reasons. One – the storm is thicker than when Dorothy headed to Oz, and two – scripture tells us these sailors are “even more afraid” because they recognize how wrong this thing Jonah is doing is.

I will stop with this one last thought before I break out into all 3 chapters of Jonah: The afraid sailors are freaking out and so the question arises, “What shall we do to you?” Jonah’s recommendation: “Throw me into the sea!” In short, Jonah would rather lose his life and die than to do as the LORD has called him to do. Seriously? Is it that hard to do what God has called you to do? Maybe it’s just me, but Jonah seems a little melodramatic….Or maybe sometimes it’s that hard to accept God’s plan and hold on our lives…

Anyways, just a little something to think and pray about. Happy Monday!