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Running From God
Photo: George Grosescu
Do you ever feel like the Christian journey is more about relearning what we already know than learning something new? Jonah had the same problem. Here are a few of my favorite “new” old lessons from Jonah:

Running Away
God gave Jonah a simple task, “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me” (Jonah 1:2). Instead, Jonah chose to run away. A man of God would know that he couldn’t truly run from the Lord, so what did he think he was doing? How many times do we find ourselves turning away from God’s clear direction, even though we know it will end in sadness or frustration? Yet we do it anyway—over and over. I wonder why?

Using our Mistakes
Jonah knew he was being foolish. When he boarded that ship, he admitted he was running from God, yet when things turned bad, he accepted responsibility: “’Pick me up and throw me into the sea,’ he replied, ‘and it will become calm. I know it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you’” (Jonah 1:12). The crew tried to avoid taking such drastic measures, but when God has a plan, nothing against it will succeed. Left with no choice, they threw Jonah overboard, but Jonah had already witnessed to them about God. Once they saw the hand of God calm the sea, the crew “greatly feared the Lord, offered a sacrifice to the Lord, and made vows to him” (Jonah 1:16). Their experience with Jonah ended in a witness to God’s power. Has the Lord ever used one of your bad choices to His own glory?

Second Chances
Whatever choices Jonah made, God was always in control. The fish provided Jonah with the time he needed to reflect on his choices and do the right thing. Even though Jonah knew he had taken a bad path, his prayer in Jonah 2 shows us that he also knew he could turn to God for forgiveness and redemption. Have you ever received a second chance? Jonah’s example shows that running from God inevitably turns into running back home again.

Running too Fast
When Jonah obeyed the Lord and went to Ninevah, the result was positive. They turned from wickedness, and the Lord took compassion on them. Jonah should have been happy, but instead he became angry. “He prayed to the Lord, ‘O Lord, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity’” (Jonah 4: 2). Sometimes even when we’re walking with God, we tend to run ahead of Him. Once again, the Lord taught Jonah a lesson he already knew: When we release the reigns and give God control, we’re free to obey and serve completely.

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By Diana Hardin. Copyright © 2009 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture take from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION.

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