“Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.”Jonah 1:1-3
I once worked at a hospital and my job was to restock the operating room medical carts. I was privy to a lot of surgeries, and I got a chance to see some cool things. I was never grossed out at these scenes, and I especially loved the excitement of an incoming trauma. I saw a lot of car accidents, shootings, stabbings, and everything in between. Friday nights were exciting as there seemed to be a lot of action going on as people celebrated the upcoming weekend. I remember one particular Wednesday night when I heard someone being wheeled into the surgery area and they were quite obnoxious and loud. I rolled my eyes as we sometimes saw this, but this guy seemed to be out of control. I later learned he was shot in the stomach due to an altercation with another guy.
I peered into the operating room as they worked on him, and it looked like he was going to make it and he finally was sedated and quiet. I went out of the operating room and into the waiting room and I saw some faces I recognized. I went to elementary and junior high school with two boys whose mom went to our church, and their dad was not saved. The boys were artistic and talented, but the younger brother was pretty wild. The younger brother was closer in age to me, so we were friends and got into trouble together. The faces I recognized were that of my old friend’s older brother and his mom and dad. I asked them why they were in the waiting room, and they told me the younger brother had been shot. I was shocked to hear this, but then I put two and two together and realized the obnoxious guy was my childhood friend. He had gotten into the gang life and was a concern to his mom who prayed for him frequently.
My friend made a full recovery, and we became reacquainted and exchanged numbers. I corresponded with him from time to time, but I was not into the things he was into and, this event did not change his life like I thought it would. He continued in his sinful lifestyle until he came home intoxicated one night and crashed his motorcycle just a few feet away from a park where he participated in sinful activity. His mom had previously told him that the neighborhood park would be the park where he would die, and he took this accident as a wake up call as this single-vehicle accident caused permanent damage to his lower leg. He realized there may not be another chance and that next time, he would end up dead in the park. He turned back to Jesus Christ and decided he needed to make changes in his life. He did a 180-degree turn, and even tried to honor his mom whom he once made fun of for praying for him. I was glad my friend came back to the God you can never truly run from.
The prophet Jonah tried to run from God and rebelled against God’s calling in his life. He failed to realize that you cannot outrun God, and God will always chasten His children. I have been chastened myself, and thankfully it was not a serious car accident or a .45 caliber bullet to the abdomen. There is no better time to do what God has called you to do than right now. God will chase you much like He did Jonah, and you will not have true joy without being in the center of His will.
Where are you today? Are you living in disobedience to God? Are you trying to run from Him? What “ship” are you trying to catch, hoping to escape from what God has called you to do? You cannot run from God without consequence, and you will not have joy until you submit to Him. May we run to our God and His will instead of running away from Him and seeking our own way.