Running Away from God

Answering the Call with Conviction

To be faithful disciples of Jesus Christ, we must hear His call and pick up our cross and follow Him wherever He calls us to go.1 Let us hear His voice assuring us, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last.”2

There are some aspects of the Christian’s calling that are universal; that is, God places the call on every Christian. God calls us all to a holy calling 3 and desires that we all live in a manner worthy of the calling He has given us.4 We are all called to purity, holiness of life,5 and into fellowship with His Son.6

Though we are all called by God, He does not call us all in the same way. Just as a body consists of many different-yet-interconnected parts, Christ’s body, the Church, is made up of many different types of people, all of whom possess different gifts that God has given them for the common good.7 It is the disciple’s task to diligently put the gifts and resources God has given them to good use.8

Running Into a Storm

In the book of Jonah, we encounter a man attempting to flee from his calling. The disgruntled prophet does not like that God called him to preach repentance to the city of Nineveh, so he boards a ship bound for the distant land of Tarshish so that he can get as far away as possible from his calling and “…flee from the LORD.”9 But Jonah (and the reader) quickly learns that it is impossible to run away from God. A fierce storm arises on the sea 10 and Jonah and his seafaring companions face imminent mortal danger. At Jonah’s request,11 the ship’s crew throws the prophet overboard and the winds and waves cease.12

God, in His humorous sovereignty and abundant mercy, sends a huge fish to swallow Jonah and provide shelter for him within its belly.13 After three days and three nights inside the giant sea creature, God makes the fish spit Jonah out safely onto dry land 14 and then commands His prophet to proceed to Nineveh and preach His message.15 This time, Jonah obeys the call of God and makes his way to the wicked city.16

We learn from this story that “…the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.”17 We can try to run from God’s call, but like Jonah and the deckhands, this will lead only to unnecessary hardships in our lives and in the lives of the people around us. Ultimately, God can override our disobedience and command us, after much discomfort and miraculous intervention, to go do the thing He was calling us to do when we tried to run away.

God Calls the Shots

We can try like Jonah to run away from our calling. But what we cannot do is manufacture our calling; it does not work. When we pursue things that God is not calling us to, we end up running aimlessly like “… a boxer beating the air.”18 We must humbly come before God and admit, “Lord, if you’re not in this, it will fail.” For it is written: “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.”19 

~Father, we desire to become people who do the things you ask of us even when we don’t want to. Please plainly reveal our calling to us and empower us through your Spirit so that we can accomplish the tasks you set before us. Show us mercy when we try to run away and bring us back to the narrow path in safety. Give us ears that hear your call and eyes that see where you want us to go. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Reflection Questions

1. Are there any areas in my life where I am trying to “run away” from God’s will?

2. Is there anything in my life that I’m pursuing even though God didn’t ask me to?

3. What/where is God calling me to in this season of my life?

Referenced Sources

1. cf. Matthew 16:24-25

2. John 15:16a NIV

3. 2 Timothy 1:8-9

4. Ephesians 4:1

5. 1 Thessalonians 4:7

6. 1 Corinthians 1:9

7. Romans 12:4-8; 1 Corinthians 12

8. Matthew 25:14-30

9. Jonah 1:3b NIV

10. Jonah 1:4

11. Jonah 1:12

12. Jonah 1:15

13. Jonah 1:17

14. Jonah 2:10

15. Jonah 3:2 

16. Jonah 3:3 

17. Romans 11:29 ESV

18. 1 Corinthians 9:26

19. Proverbs 19:21 NIV

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