“Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, ‘Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.’ But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord… Jonah [went] down into the inner part of the ship and [lay] down and was fast asleep… The men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he told them… And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah.” Jonah 1:1-3,5,10,17
How quickly the flesh takes over when we do not like God’s commands! As easy as it might be to criticize Jonah’s outright rebellion, we must consider our own hearts in areas we do not want Him to touch, and admit that we, too, often flee to Tarshish. And it is quite easy to do so. Circumstances often smooth the path for disobedience, making the berth for self-will enticing and available, and when we are determined, we can see this as an approval to do our own thing. But we can never hide from God. Turn your back, take the detour, find the boat, buy the ticket, hide away in selfish escape, and God in His mercy will still find you out.
It is God’s enemy, the devil, who tempts us to think God’s way is too hard, our way is better, we can be king of our lives and control our environment and make our own plans and that’s what God intended anyway. If we let him, he takes over our thought processes and resolve and makes a mess of our walk. But it is the Spirit of God Who enables us not only to see the long view as He sees, but to have the strength to say no to sin and yes to God’s ways. It is the Spirit Who reminds us of His true promises and sows them into our minds for quick reference. It is the Lord Himself Who supplies grace and strength to turn from our flesh and say yes to His Ninevahs, as hard as the assignment is. (Luke 4:1-12; John 14:26; 16:13; Titus 2:11-12)
In what areas of my life: habits, fantasies, language, expenditures, entertainments, have I crossed my arms and said, “Stay out!”? Are there specific things God is calling me to do that I resist because they will require too much time and effort, because I prefer ease and comfort, because those He wants me ministering to are not the ones I would prefer? Where are my hideaways of attempted escape so I can shut off God’s voice and heed my own without interruption? Thankfully, in irresistible mercy, He will pursue me and provide the way to return to Him and His path. Will I take it? (1 Corinthians 10:13)
Good Father, identify my bents of clear rebellion against Your word, and replace them with a willing delight to obey. Pull me out of my Tarshishes, push me to Your Ninevahs, and stretch me to do Your will.