White Flag: God, You, and Jonah – A Story of Runaways

People – whether it’s a small child in New York or an active member of an evangelical church in Dubai – run away; it’s a human tendency.  And whatever  reasons people may have, the focus of running away isn’t to find a new destination, but to distance themselves from whatever the thing or person they’re running away from – that’s why it’s called running away, not running to.

However, people aren’t limited to running away from other people, things, places, or situation – they also run away from God. Of course, they can’t really escape God; what is meant by that is that they go in the opposite direction of the path God wants them to take. And they – we – do this for a variety of reasons.

The Reason for Running

It could be because we want to believe that there is no God, as it would water down our conscience, allowing us to do anything we please without being bothered by it. It could also be because what we want goes against what God wants. It could be because we want to be in a relationship, church, or ministry God doesn’t want us to be in and vice versa, we are living a lie – a double life, or we don’t want to give another person what we owe, apologize, or fulfill our responsibilities.

And whenever we run away from God, either we pray only for the things we want, not pray at all, or refuse to attend church. This isn’t an entirely new thing; it’s a lot more common, especially those who run away, than people think. In fact, the oldest and most famous person to ever do the same thing is found in the Old Testament: Jonah.

Runaway Prophet

Jonah knew that being a prophet meant telling people God’s message no matter how dire or undesirable it may be, and that is why prophets were disliked and unwelcome. And Jonah’s case isn’t as simple as the usual prophet who’s asked to speak of the Lord’s warnings, as he was being sent off to Nineveh. It wasn’t a part of Israel – this meant that Jonah was tasked to speak in a place he is unfamiliar with and to people who do not share the same worldview as him. And to make matters worse, Nineveh is an Assyrian city and the center of cruelty and idol worship – the things Jonah was asked to preach against. However, Jonah didn’t want to do it mainly because he wanted the people of Nineveh to be judged. And in his attempt to get away from what he was ordained to do, he rode a boat that was off to somewhere else.

We do the same thing Jonah did; the only difference lies with our reasons. It could be because we’re afraid to miss out on something good that doesn’t coincide with God’s plan, we’ve become disappointed with life, we associate God with a bad experience both in the church and in the secular world, or refuse to believe. And when we run away – we go to strange places that we think are safe havens but are actually filled with danger. This could be a wrong relationship, the wrong crowd, a habit, an addiction. All of these things can make us feel like everything’s okay, but the truth is that they lead us to destruction.

Running Into Trouble

Jonah’s plan failed, as the voyage encountered a storm. He admitted to the sailor that the wind and waves were God’s doing, as he was running away from Him. Jonah realized that no matter how and where he runs, God and the consequences of running will always be behind his tail. Confronted with the truth about the inescapability of God and his mission, he asked for forgiveness, accepted his calling, and asked the sailors to throw him overboard, and the seas and squalls calmed down.

God’s Looking For You

After Jonah was thrown overboard, he was swallowed by a fish that took him to Nineveh, to where he’s supposed to be – with God. And God is looking for us runaways, not because He’s punishing us for doing so, but because He loves us, and he knows that where we are is a place that is far away from His wisdom, love, and protection.

So, what are you waiting for? God’s waiting for you to come home, so do your part and come back. Return, because God loves you.

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