Text: Jonah 1 + 2
I am a runner and I LOVE to run. I’m one of those people (as my friends say) who actually likes to wake up at 4 am to get to the gym before work and get my run in, and who makes plans around my training schedule. (Another self-disclosure: I go through two to three pairs of running shoes per year. Don’t judge.) Running is something I crave because it’s therapy and health to me. I so appreciate this gift from God in my life.
Given my devotion to running, it is probably no surprise then that I am immediately captivated by Jonah in Chapter 1 …
The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai:
“Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”
But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish …
Jonah 1:1-3 (NIV)
I’ve had moments like these. Moments where I am faced with things that I don’t want to deal with. Moments where I’m told I have to do something I don’t want to do. Moments when I’ve just wanted to escape, to get out of dodge. to run away from it all.
Sometimes a run is exactly what I need to get refocused, to get perspective, to get motivated. I can sweat out all the toxins (mental, emotional, and physical), be fully emptied of whatever negativity or stress I felt, and move forward in the direction I am being called to go. But there are times when this isn’t an option. It isn’t always feasible to run away and work it out before we take action.
Sometimes, we just have to go and do. Sometimes, immediate obedience is what’s needed.
Jonah’s story shows us what happens when we run away from God and His commands.
When Jonah flees from the Lord, his life takes a crazy turn. A storm comes (Jonah 1:4). He gets tossed into the raging sea (Jonah 1:15). And then he gets swallowed by a BIG fish (Jonah 2:1).
One would assume Jonah would die from being swallowed by a fish, but fortunately for Jonah, God doesn’t follow human logic.
Instead, God purposes that Jonah spend three days and three nights in the belly of the fish. And as a result, Jonah comes to acknowledge his sin, remember God’s faithfulness and goodness, and recommit his life to the LORD.
In my distress I called to the Lord,
and he answered me.
From the depths of the grave I called for help,
and you listened to my cry.
When my life was ebbing away,
I remembered you, Lord,
and my prayer rose to you,
to your holy temple.
Those who cling to worthless idols
turn away from God’s love for them.
But I, with a song of thanksgiving,
will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
Salvation comes from the Lord.
Jonah 2:1, 7- 9 (NIV)
Following Jonah’s psalm, God commands the fish and it releases Jonah onto dry land (Jonah 2:10). O, the grace and mercy of our God.
The story of Jonah is our story. Like Jonah, we disobey God, running away and hiding from Him so we can avoid doing what He commands. We fall short and mess up. Time and time again.
But this fact remains: God knows us inside and out. And He loves us in spite it all.
Out of His rich love for us, in returning to Him in confession and repentance, His grace and mercy are ours for the taking. He gets us out of the “fish’s belly” every time.
So friends, when God commands us to do something, let’s choose to obey Him. Let’s take a lesson from Jonah and put aside our stubbornness and follow God where He calls. Life will be far less messy when we stay close to Him.
And today especially, let’s run to God, giving Him praise for His unfailing love, grace, and mercy.
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Join me in the coming weeks as I participate in the #SheReadsTruth #SheSharesTruth devotional writing challenge. Every Friday during Lent I’ll post a teaching on here based on Scripture(s) provided at the beginning of the week. I look forward to what the Lord will teach me and put on my heart to share with all of you through this journey. Thanks for following along!