“One day long ago, God’s Word came to Jonah, Amittai’s son: ‘Up on your feet and on your way to the big city of Nineveh! Preach to them. They’re in a bad way and I can’t ignore it any longer.’


But Jonah got up and went the other direction to Tarshish, running away from God. He went down to the port of Joppa and found a ship headed for Tarshish. He paid the fare and went on board, joining those going to Tarshish—as far away from God as he could get. But God sent a huge storm at sea, the waves towering.


The ship was about to break into pieces. The sailors were terrified. They called out in desperation to their gods. They threw everything they were carrying overboard to lighten the ship. Meanwhile, Jonah had gone down into the hold of the ship to take a nap. He was sound asleep. The captain came to him and said, ‘What’s this? Sleeping! Get up! Pray to your god! Maybe your god will see we’re in trouble and rescue us’.” Jonah 1:1-6 (MSG)



Jonah said “no” to God, and it sent him running in the opposite direction only to find God still there. The people of Nineveh were evil and wicked; Jonah was probably afraid for his life when God asked him to go. So in an effort to save himself, he went on a long journey that ultimately led him back to God. On this boat to Tarshish, the captain and crew realized that their ship was going under.  Yet, Jonah was sleeping through the worst storm of his life. Even when Jonah missed how God was trying to redirect him, the captain of the ship knew it had some connection to Jonah. God was in pursuit of Jonah, not because he wanted to punish him. He wanted Jonah to be part of the turn around that the Ninevites experienced in their city. He was unwilling to let Jonah walk away from his calling. When Jonah ran to Tarshish, he had no idea how much God loved him. Even though he was running, God was orchestrating circumstances that would point him back to where he needed to be.


At points in our lives, God sees something in us that we don’t see in ourselves. It can be scary, overwhelming, and challenging. Instead of responding in obedience, we can have a natural fight or flight response to His direction. When we start running, many times it is out of fear – fear of the unknown. God does not call us to do something because we aren’t afraid; He calls us to do things beyond ourselves, because He wants to help us. If Jonah was going to Nineveh on his own plan and God had not told him to go, he should have been scared for his life. There were realistic dangers that he would face. However, God wasn’t looking at the facts of the situation as much as he was looking at the faith of the person. If you are on the run, remember that God loves you so much that he will pursue you wherever you go. And when He sees something in you that you can’t see in yourself, trust his divine providence to provide what you need in due time.

Scripture taken from THE MESSAGE. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002.  Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group. 

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About Hona Amer

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