Running From God

God calls Jonah to go to Nineveh, the capital of the powerful nation of Assyria. But instead he flees to Tarsish. As you can see, Tarshish is just about as far away as possible from Nineveh. Jonah is running from God. You may have run from God at times in your life as well. Maybe not by getting in a boat and sailing across the known world. Instead, I’ve found that our way of running from God is avoiding people and places that convict us. Our church attendance declines. We stop reading our Bibles. We stop spending time with friends and family who remind us of the God we are avoiding.
What Jonah realized some two or three thousand years ago is something many of us still have not learned. The psalmist reminds us succinctly: “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” (Ps 139:7–10).
You can’t outrun God. You can’t hide from Him. We try. But the further we get from the source of Life, the more our lives begin to fall apart. In the words of the poet Francis Thompson:
I FLED Him, down the nights and down the days; I fled Him, down the arches of the years; I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears I hid from Him, and under running laughter. 5 Up vistaed hopes I sped; And shot, precipitated, Adown Titanic glooms of chasmèd fears, From those strong Feet that followed, followed after. But with unhurrying chase, 10 And unperturbèd pace, Deliberate speed, majestic instancy, They beat—and a Voice beat More instant than the Feet— ‘All things betray thee, who betrayest Me.’
We are betrayed by our own betrayal and find ourselves crying out to the one from whom we’ve run. And when we turn back to Him, we find He’s been right beside us the whole time, waiting for us to turn back.