Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time reading through the book of Jonah. It’s a short book (only 49 verses) that is usually told because of the story about the fish that swallows Jonah. I like the fish, but could the book really be about a fish that is only mentioned twice? God is referenced 39 times in the book. Perhaps the book is really about God.
Grab your Bible and read Jonah 1:1-3.
The word of the Lord comes to Jonah and he runs away. In fact, Jonah doesn’t just run away he tries to break relationship with God. Fleeing the presence of God is a difficult thing. The psalmist asks,
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
Th plain fact of the matter is that we cannot escape the presence of God. You might be thinking, “Why would we want to escape God’s presence?” Good question. When things are tough we usually long for God. When things are going well we don’t mind God hanging around, and sometimes we even give him the credit. When God calls us to act on his behalf though we often run from the presence of the Lord.
Truthfully, we can never escape the presence of the Lord, but we can refuse to be present in God’s presence. To be present is to be attentive, to be alert, and to be responsive God. When we don’t take time to pray we are not present in God’s presence. When we work as if for anyone but the Lord we are not present in God’s presence. When we fail to come to to the Table, to gather with God’s people, to love the poor, sick, naked, hungry, and little ones we are not present in God’s presence.
Fleeing from God’s presence may seem like the easy way out but we will soon see that it didn’t get Jonah very far. Until then, think about these questions and let’s stop fleeing the presence of the Lord.
- When do you find yourself turning to God? When do you find yourself fleeing from the presence of God?
- When you try and flee God’s presence where do you go?
- What is the “word of the Lord” you are hearing right now? How are you planning to respond to that word?
- In what ways is it comforting to now that you can’t escape the presence of God? In what ways is it terrifying?
- Jonah is clearly a book about mission – telling others about God’s mighty saving acts. How are you currently participating in sharing this good news?