Summary: What do you do when you don’t want to do what God wants you to do? What do you do when you know what’s right, but that’s just not the path you want to travel? What do you do when you and God just don’t want the same things for your life? What do you do w
I read a story recently about a 5-year old who decided to run away. The lady who lived next door saw him go, as she was outside cutting her grass. She said that she watched him walk up and down the pavement, in front of her house, hauling his little suitcase behind him. He would disappeared around the corner, and a few minutes later, he’d reappear and go past her again. After he had gone past the house several times, she finally asked: "What you doing?" He answered, "I’m running away from home!" “So” she said -- “why do you keep circling the block?" He answered, "because mum and dad won’t allow me to cross the road by myself!!"
Have you ever wanted to run away? To be honest there have been loads of times in my life when I have just wanted to run away – to run away from a problem or a situation or a person. We all probably have that feeling once in a while. We just want to get away.
You know since I have been in full time ministry I have lost count of the times that I just wanted to give up, walk away, run away. Sometimes even the pastor thinks that it might be better for everyone to let someone else have a go. There’s probably not a week goes by that at some point I just want to quit and as some people have said to me “get an honest job.” Do you know what ministers often dream about? They dream of having a 9 to 5 job, five days a week.
For those of you who are ‘Peanuts’ fans - One day Linus and Charlie Brown are walking along and chatting with one another. Linus says, "I don’t like to face problems head on. I think the best way to solve problems is to avoid them. In fact, this is a distinct philosophy of mine. No problem or situation is so big or so complicated that it can’t be run away from!"
What I’m saying is that we all have moments like that in life, moments when all we want to do is run, to get away, to escape. Don’t feel guilty about it – some of the greatest people who ever lived ran away:
• Adam and Eve in the garden after disobeying God ran away and hid from his presence.
• Moses ran away from Pharoah after he killed an Egyptian soldier.
• David who not only stood up against the giant but who also killed the giant – ran away from King Saul. Later he wrote in Psalm 55 ‘Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest – I would flee far away and stay in the desert. I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm’.
• Elijah ran away from Jezebel.
• The disciples ran away from the Garden of Gethsemane and abandoned their Lord.
• And Jonah was a man who ran away from the call of God on his life.
Now let me just give you a little bit of background information about this story.
Some later rabbinic traditions suggest that Jonah was the widow’s son brought back to life by Elijah in 1 Kings 17:17-24 but there is no concrete evidence for that. But we do know that Jonah was no novice – we do know that he wasn’t an apprentice prophet - this wasn’t a one off call. 2 Kings 14 tells us that Jonah is a prophet and a servant of the Lord. He lived in Israel and he served God as his prophet - as his mouthpiece. In fact his very name indicates that. Jonah means ’dove’ - which signifies a ’messenger’. And we’re told that he is Son of Ammitai - Son of ’truth’. He is a messenger of truth - God’s truth.
It was by God’s word through Jonah that King Jeroboam extended the boundaries of Israel in 2 Kings 14:25. That was his job as a prophet of the most-high God. It was his job to listen to the word of God and then communicate it to the people.
So it’s no surprise when we read in Jonah Chapter 1 and verse 1 that the word of the Lord came to Jonah, Son of Ammitai - it was his job to answer the call. But instead of obeying, instead of doing what God called him to do – Jonah ran away.
You know, I like Jonah. He’s real – and he struggles with issues I struggle with:
* What do you do when you don’t want to do what God wants you to do?
* What do you do when you know what’s right, but that’s just not the path you want to travel?