Read Jonah 1:3-4. Tarshish is the destination you and I would choose in our lowest moments, but God does not. It is the epitome of self-directed ministry. It is obedience of a sort, in that Jonah did ‘GO’, but not to where God sent him. He went in the very opposite direction. The irony is un-missable, ‘Jonah ran away from the Lord’, and his intent is repeated. It was ‘to flee from the LORD’ (v.3), and catches the notice of the half-alert, who may overlook this diversion from our destiny. Nineveh may be dangerous, but there is no place more dangerous for us than the place we run to, escaping the will of God for us right now.

And so, Jonah is now ‘on the deep’, evading both God, and his call upon his life. Instead of ‘going up’ to Nineveh, Jonah ‘went down’, a spiritual fall, as well as physical reality and detail. He ‘went down’ to Joppa, then down to a ship, then down below deck, and deep into the hold, eventually down to the ‘root of the mountains’ under the sea (2:6). The backslider and rebel is not climbing higher, but sinking.

We see that things can only get worse, before they get better for Jonah. Before he can ’come up’ again, he’s going down! This was his choice, but God let him do it, and let him have his way. We learn a lot when, like the Prodigal Son, we run away from the Father into the ‘Far Country’. There’s a chance we’ll ‘come to our senses’ again! But the main truth here is that when we give up on God, he does not give up on us. Therein lies both our best hope, and our deepest healing. God knows where you are, and he also knows how to find you.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn wrote, “I have done many things in my life that conflicted with the great aims I had set myself but something has always set me on the true path again,” (‘The Oak and the Calf’ p.111). If you run from the revealed will of God for your life, you’re on the run from God himself. You are putting your life at risk, even your future and earthly destiny, not to mention the lives of countless others around you. Things will never get better for you until they have first become worse, under the gracious hand of God.

Can you recall any occasions in your life when you’ve lost the plot spiritually, and gone ‘on the run’ from God? What’s happened since then? Thank God if you can, that with God, ‘All’s well, that ends well!’