I’m taking the Jonah study this semester, along with manyof you. I love the title “navigating a life interrupted.” For those who are not in the class, it’s about learning to view life’s interruptions as divine interventions—that God truly has a purpose and plan, no matter what circumstances may come along our path.
I’m also learning to see God in each moment and trying to appreciate those moments from His perspective. God has something important for me in these moments: a chance to grow, to learn, to trust Him and enjoy His presence.
Jonah 1:3 says
“But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.”
Notice, two times it says Jonah wanted to flee from the presence of the LORD.
To flee from, to run from, to escape the presence of . . . This reminds me of a time many years ago when my niece was about three or four. Our family was together at my mom and dad’s.
My niece loved candy. Mom would always have a candy jar for all of us filled with a variety of goodies. None of us were aware that my niece was taking candy from that jar, a few pieces at a time, and running to hide them all over the house. We all noticed her darting and running but assumed she was just playing.
Then, my mom happened to notice all the candy was missing from the jar. She put two and two together and realized all the darting and running was really taking and hiding. She asked my niece, nicely, “Where did you put all the candy?” Or, heaven forbid, “Did you eat it all?”
My niece literally ran and hid behind the couch. We all saw where she was hiding. Pretty soon you would see her little fingers, then her lovely red hair, and then her big green eyes peeping over the top of the couch. She actually said, “You can’t see me.” My niece really believed she had escaped, that no one could see her. She believed she had removed herself from our presence.
If we are honest, aren’t we all sometimes like my niece and Jonah? I know I am, more often than I care to admit, . . . running and trying to flee from things in life: problems, conflicts, distresses, trials, difficulties, pain, sickness, sin.
We are hoping and thinking no one will notice. That God won’t notice.
I used to love to run. Now, I love to walk. (Age and body-part malfunctions have a way of adjusting your pace.) I love being outdoors, breathing the fresh air, feeling the warmth of the sun and the freedom of the wind. Walking is good for my body, but more so, for my mind and spirit and soul.
But often I run, trying to flee from God’s divine intervention in my life, viewing it only as a big interruption, thinking if I could only run hard and fast enough—maybe it would all disappear. Maybe He won’t notice. Maybe I can escape facing this issue just one time.
Like Jonah or my niece, I want to run from something . . . trying to hide or escape . . . instead of turning to Jesus, facing the issue, and running into the loving presence and safety of His arms. Running . . . instead of viewing the situation from His perspective.
Are you running today? From God? Trying to escape His presence? The great news is, we can’t escape His presence! He is with us—always.
What does His presence mean?
- Presence is the space immediately around a person (He is a shield around us.)
- The bearing of a person . . . a manner of carrying (He carries us in his hands.)
- Supporting someone, to be with them (He is with us, never leaves us.)
- To comprehend one’s situation (He holds all our tears in a bottle; He knows our name.)
- A connection or influence on someone (His Spirit lives within us and guides us.)
- Significance (He calls us daughter.)
Can you picture this? Can you see it? We just sang these words together:
“He knows my Name . . . He formed My heart . . . Before even time began . . . My life was in His hands . . . ”
“I know for sure all of my days are Held in Your hands . . . Crafted into Your perfect plan . . . You gently call me into Your presence . . . Guiding me by Your Holy Spirit . . . ”
He is always with us. We cannot run from His presence. He is always there for us. His love and protection are inescapable. All we need to do is acknowledge His presence and allow Him to guide and direct us, to let go and let Him carry us through.
God said to Moses: “My presence shall go with you and I will give you rest.” Ex 33:14 Are you needing a little rest today?
The Psalmist talks about God presence. I’ve personalized it: “And my own arm did not save me; but Your right hand, and Your arm, and the light of Your presence, for You favored me.” Ps 44:3
His presence is with us forever: “I will never leave you nor will I ever forsake you.” Heb 13:5
When I go out for a run (okay, a walk), my arms flailing, unsteady, trying to run from something, and as I cry out to Him, praying and asking Him for help, He so wonderfully answers . . . adjusts my course. Then, I’m back on track, running steady and secure towards my true home . . . in the loving arms of His presence.
Join me in prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you for your loving presence in my life. You are a shield about me. Thank you for divine interventions in my day, to help me trust you more fully. Forgive me for the times I try to run away. I need not fear nor be afraid of situations in my life for you are ever present with me. Help me to walk moment by moment, upheld by Your right hand, knowing you’ll never let me go.
“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory, blameless with great joy, and to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority before all time now and forever.” (From Jude 1:24) Amen.