I just recently preached from the Book of Jonah. The story is familiar, The Word of the Lord comes to Jonah and tells him to go to Ninevah and preach. Jonah decides not to go to Ninevah and runs from God. He goes to port and gets on a ship going the opposite direction from where God asked him to go, and while on board he falls asleep and a violent storm strikes filling everyone on board with fear. Everyone that is but Jonah, who is in a deep sleep. The crew is so desperate that they start calling out to their gods as described in Jonah 1. The captain finds Jonah sleeping and asks him a great question: “How can you sleep?” The irony is that the people who did not know God were praying and the ‘man of God’ was sleeping. Jonah confesses that his disobedience is the cause for the angry storm. Jonah pleads with the crew to throw him overboard since he is the reason for all of the drama. The story of Jonah is the story of running from God and that God is the God of second chances. God loves people and wants them all to come to Him in faith.
Jonah is not the last person to run from God. Over the years many have done their best to imitate Jonah and decided they know better what they should do and following Jonah’s example decided to “pay the fare” and run away from God. God met Jonah in the belly of a “great fish.” God meets us wherever we may be, but how do I know if I am in danger of running from God?
You are in danger of running from God:
- You are easy on yourself and hard on others. When you start to criticize others for things you do you are in a bad place. We make excuses for ourselves and harshly criticize and condemn others and offer them no grace. The proper position is to be harder on ourselves and easier on others. To give ourselves a pass and then hold others to a higher standard is a sign that our lives are out of balance.
- Your devotional life is lacking or missing altogether. One way we draw closer to God is by spending time with Him in prayer, Bible study, and spending time devotionally keeps us in constant contact with God and growing spiritually.
- You are easily offended. Today in my country nearly everyone is offended and offended often and over about everything. Are you easily offended? Ask God to give you a spirit of love and be willing to change what you can and godly acceptance for all the rest.
- You believe you are more mature than others. There is a danger in believing you are more mature than others and therefore you are in a position to pass judgment on every subject. In essence, this is the opposite of humility. Humility keeps us close to God, pride drives us away.
- You use the word “grace” as a cover for sin. Grace is a wonderful, rich and powerful word that points us to God’s ‘unmerited favor and mercy’ that He bestows on all. Yet grace is never whitewash meant to excuse or to act as a coverup for sin. Grace is great, to presume is dangerous. The grace of God came to Jonah and offered him another chance. Our God is a God of second chances. None of us could make it with out the grace of God and His offering another chance.
These are just a few examples and road marks that will either draw us closer to the Lord or will put us in a position to follow Jonah’s example and run the other direction from the command and call of God. Our goal is to get close to God and keep growing in the grace of God. Which way are you headed!