Of all the things I have seen people do that complicate their lives, running from God is among the top. I’m not talking about people who don’t believe in God–I’m talking about people who have a relationship with Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord, people who are at church every time the doors are open, people who listen to Christian music on the radio, yet still head in the opposite direction from where God wants them to go. They’re then surprised when their life becomes one big mess after another. They bounce from trouble to trouble, trying to find their way, only to discover that each path leads to more confusion.
This begs the question: would the kind of believer described above ever find themselves in such a position? While we would like to think the answer is “no”, all we need to do is look at the Bible to find that answer is “yes”.
In the Old Testament book of Jonah, we see that God called that prophet to go and preach to the city of Nineveh. They were to be informed that, because of their wickedness, God was going to destroy the city and all in it in 40 days. Israel hated Assyria, of which Nineveh was the capital, and any Israelite worth his salt would likely have felt repulsed by the idea of going in and preaching a word from God to them. Nineveh, founded by Noah’s grandson Nimrod, was a place known for its cruelty. That, in combination with the fact the the Jewish people had no great respect for Gentiles anyway, was apparently sufficient to drive Jonah to get on a boat for Tarshish–although historians aren’t sure of Tarshish’s exact location, it is believed to be a small town in southern Spain. In other words, Jonah, a prophet of God, headed as far in the opposite direction of God’s call as he could. Although we see hesitance on the part of some prophets in Scripture, this is the only time we see one flat out refuse to carry out his God-given mission. If you want to know how Jonah’s story ends up, click here for a link to a comic book version I found that is too cool to pass up: http://www.staircasestudio.com/jonah/index.html
Jonah was a prophet of God, indicating that he had been faithful at some point in proclaiming God’s word when instructed. Yet, he is most famous for his act of rebellion that led to him getting swallowed up by a giant fish–not exactly how one would like to be remembered. God was not finished with him, however, and gave him a second chance to be obedient to God’s call, which Jonah wisely took. If a prophet could allow his own prejudices and preconceived notions to keep him from obedience to God, what is to say that we won’t follow suit from time to time?
David, Israel’s greatest earthly king, is described in Scripture as a man with a heart like God’s (Acts 13:22), yet he commited adultery (2 Samuel 11:4), plotted to cover up the woman’s pregnancy (2 Samuel 11:6-13), and eventually killed her husband to justify himself (2 Samuel 11:14-17). This is a man with a heart like God’s? Yes, but he is still a man, which means all of the flaws inherent to humanity were still present.
When we recieve the forgiveness Jesus purchased at the cross for us and surrender our lives to Him, we are given a new nature–a nature that reflects God and His attributes. The old, selfish, fleshly nature is still present in us–and will be until we get to heaven– but the new nature supercedes it in power and authority. We have to choose, however, which nature we will allow to rule in our lives. When we are obedient to the leading of God’s Holy Spirit in our lives, we find the blessings that come with such actions. If we choose to act in accordance with our own desires, as Jonah and David did, there will be consequences.
Understand that God is not seated billions of miles away, an angry old man waiting to swat us down whenever we get out of line. He is a kind, loving, patient Father who loves His children so much that He not only involves them in His work, but His righteousness demands that He also corrects them when they misbehave.
Look at what God has done for you–if nothing else, the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ on the cross which paid for our sins is enough. Why would you run from Him? Why would you continue to try to make your own way, banging your head against the wall in frustration, when Jesus says the He is the way (John 14:6)? If you’re running from God, you’re headed in the wrong direction. Why not swallow your pride, hang a u-turn (that’s what repentance is), and come back to Him? He’ll never mislead you, and He’ll never send you somewhere that He won’t go with you. Sounds like a good running partner to me.