Summary: A sermon for those who are running or thinking of running from God.
Have you ever heard a sermon on how to run from God? Most of the sermons we hear are why you shouldn’t run from God, or how to get close to God. But I believe this is a topic that most of us can relate to. How many of you as children ever wanted to run away from home? I remember when I was about 6 years old and I decided I had all the parenting I needed I was ready for the world, and I went out and jumped on my orange huffy bicycle with the big banana set and struck out for a place were I could play all the time and wouldn’t have to bother with eating. That was my biggest problem with my six-year-old life – my family ate too much! Three meals a day…well it just interfered with my play time to have to stop and eat so much. In my attempt at freedom I didn’t get very far before I ran into a problem…I was lost and the longer I road my bicycle the more lost I got until I finally just pulled off the road laid my bike in the ditch and started rethinking my strategy and after setting and thinking for what seemed to be an eternity my dad found me loaded up my bike and took me home.
This morning I’m going to talk about the most famous runaway in the Bible. Even if you didn’t grow up in church and you have very little background in the church most people have heard of Jonah and the great fish that swallowed him. This is the place that critics of the Bible point to and say “ah ha, that proves the Bible isn’t true, a great fish swallows a man and he lives to tell about it – no way”.
Illustration: Makes me think about the little girl in elementary school who was in class one day studying about the ocean when the teacher told the class, “I don’t want any of you to ever be afraid of going into the sea because there is not sea creatures that can swallow you whole”. So this little girl raised her hand and said, “I learned in church that a great fish swallowed Jonah whole”. And the teacher scoffed at that and said, “that’s impossible that could never happen”. And the little girl said, “When I get to heaven I’ll ask Jonah myself and find out if it was true”. To which the teacher replied, “what if Jonah didn’t go to heaven?” The little girl said, “then you can ask him”.
The story of Jonah is the story of God’s love for all people along with the story of Jonah running from God. So we will learn what he did right, what he did wrong and what you need to do if you chose to run from God.
1. TO SUCCESFULLY RUN FROM GOD YOU MUST ACCEPT YOUR SEPERATION FROM GOD.
If you’re going to run from God you’re creating distance between yourself and God. Chapter one verse three says, “…he went down to Joppa”. This not only indicates the geographic direction of Jonah’s life but the spiritual direction as well. If you’re going to run from God then you have to accept the overall decline and downward spiral of your life and soul. If you’re running from God it might seem like things are going well for a while, you might even enjoy your freedom from God but the truth of it is sooner or later you’re going down. When I struck out from my parent’s house I was totally enjoying my new found freedom – I didn’t have to eat those three meals a day and I could play as long as I wanted to. As I road away from my house the sun was shining the wind in my face – I was feeling good. But when I hit unfamiliar territory and couldn’t find familiar territory the fun all came to an end.
Jonah had to pay for his ticket to get on the boat. It always cost us when we’re separated from God. When you run from God the devil is always going to take you farther than you want to go, make you stay longer than you want to stay and make you pay more than you want to pay.
Jonah goes down to the sea port alone buys his ticket alone, boards the ship alone, and now he has to face this storm all alone. So let me ask you; how comfortable are you facing all of your life and all of your storms alone? As believers when we face storms and turn to God that’s the times that we truly sense how close God is to us, because we’re constantly turning to God and leaning on God for help and strength. I never want to face a storm in this life without God.