Running away is a common threat with young children.

Running away is a common threat with young children. 

Parents tell them to do something. The child doesn’t want to. An argument ensues. The child throws a temper tantrum and threatens to run away. 

Did you ever threaten to run away when you were a child? 

Have you ever threatened to run away — or even actually done it as an adult? 

It can happen after a severe argument, a breach in trust or a dumb decision.

The same can be true when it comes to God telling us he has something for us to do. We don’t want to do it, so we ignore God and walk away.

God wanted Jonah to be his prophet to Nineveh. God had heard things were happening in Nineveh that were very upsetting, so God wanted Jonah to warn the Ninevites that if they didn’t stop it and repent, God would wipe them out.

When Jonah heard this, he not only said, “No!” he said, “Heck no!” You see, Jonah had a deep-seated anger toward the Ninevites.

Jonah refused to see the big picture. He ran, not because of personal danger. Rather, he ran from his calling, his vocation, as a prophet of God. He ran because of a conflict of wills and purpose. God wanted to redeem the people. Jonah wanted to see the people destroyed. Jonah wanted God on his side, and God wasn’t.

Even if we try to run from God — physically, emotionally or spiritually — God still knows who we are and where we are.

Yes, we can pretend to ignore God, but we are never out of his presence.

As Paul reminds us in Acts 17:28, “In him we live and move and have our being.” God is at the very root of our existence.

When God calls people to do something for him, some folks react like Jonah. They attempt to run and hide.

Their reasoning is like Jonah’s: “I don’t like that person and I want nothing to do with them.” 

Or it might sound like, “That doesn’t sound like any fun at all” or “I don’t have the time to do that.”

But when it comes to God’s call, let’s remember it is not all about “me.” It is all about God and what God wants. 

I have reacted like Jonah on occasion during my ministry. Years ago, I stopped doing ministry as a full-time calling so I could pursue a new avenue: teaching computer science.

It was something I wanted to do, and I was good at it — but it wasn’t what God wanted me to do. God wouldn’t let go. He used several different people and circumstances to get my attention and I returned to full-time ministry.

You see, God’s will is going to be accomplished. I would encourage any who would attempt to run and hide from God to not bother. If God really wants you to do something, you will eventually recognize he has called you for a special purpose. 

Different people react differently when they hear God’s call. If you are a person like Jonah, you might want to run. But remember, if you must run, don’t run away from God; run toward him.

The Rev. Mark Broadhead is Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church and First Presbyterian Church of Crestview's pastor.