Published September 6, 2016

Shelia Shares
"Are You Running?"

Jonah was swallowed by the whale. That is what we learned as children in Sunday School. Whether it was a whale or a big fish, I don't know. But, there is more to the story than this particular small part.

Jonah chapter 1 starts with Jonah being told by God to preach to Nineveh, modern-day Mosul in Northern Iraq. It was a wicked city. But Jonah decided to flee from the Lord and joined a ship going to Tarshish, located in modern-day Spain. Nineveh is 500 miles from Jonah's hometown (Gath Hepher) and Tarshish is in the opposite direction around 2500 miles from Nineveh, about as far as you could go at that time.

Jonah finds a boat going to Tarshish, gets onboard and falls asleep deep in the boat. A vicious storm comes up and everyone prays to their pagan god. But, Jonah is asleep, oblivious to those who will be lost on his ship because of his disobedience.

First, he was uncaring that the people of Nineveh would be destroyed. Then he was uncaring that the people on his ship would perish. He was callous to the needs of others. He was unwilling to represent God.

Although he said he believed in God, he continued to run as far from God as he could get. And, rather than repenting, Jonah amazingly asks them to throw him into the sea. Rather than turning around and going where God was sending him, Jonah chose the sea and certain death. He refused to repent.

When we observe how some Christians behave in today's world, it raises some questions we need to consider.

Psalms 139:7-12 reads, "Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall fall on me,' Even the night shall be light about me; Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, But the night shines as the day; The darkness and the light are both alike to You."

Deuteronomy 30:19 reads, "I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live."

Proverbs 14:27 tells us "The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, To turn one away from the snares of death."

Hebrews 4:16 has the answer: "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need."

- Shelia

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