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The Evangelistic Ministries of John "BJ" Hall

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Since January 18, 2015

Running From Your Call

August 9, 2017

By Evangelist John BJ Hall

As a kid, running was part of our DNA. My brother and I hardly ever went anywhere that it was not made into a race. The old nursery rhyme The Gingerbread Man comes to mind.

In the 1875 St. Nicholas Magazine tale, a childless old woman bakes a gingerbread man who leaps from her oven and runs away. The woman and her husband give chase but fail to catch him. The Gingerbread man then outruns several farm workers and farm animals while taunting them with the phrase:

Run, run as fast as you can!
You can't catch me. I'm the Gingerbread Man!

The tale ends with a fox catching and eating the gingerbread man who cries as he's devoured, "I'm quarter gone...I'm half gone...I'm three-quarters gone...I'm all gone!"

The book of Jonah is about a man who thought he could outrun God. He didn’t want to do what God called him to do. Jonah was a Jew and he hated the Ninevites. They were a cruel and wicked people who had given the people of Israel trouble for an extended period of time.

God told him to go and tell them that God was going to destroy their city. Now it seems that this would be something Jonah would want to do. You know, walk through their city yelling that God is going to destroy them.

But Jonah knew God. He knew that if the people of Ninevah were to repent, God would forgive them. He did not want that to happen. So Jonah ran.

But there are some things he did not know. He didn’t know that running from God is very difficult. All kinds of obstacles block the way of escape. Just about the time, he thought he had gotten away with it, God sent a storm to break over the ship he was in. It was so bad that the sailors were afraid for their lives. They threw cargo overboard trying to lighten the load. But that didn’t help. Finally, they cast lots in an attempt to find out who brought this catastrophe upon them.

The second thing he did not know was that running from God can be dangerous. Jonah finally relented and told them that he was to blame. He told them to cast him overboard and the storm would end. At first they resisted, but finally, they did as he said.

I wonder if he was thinking, “I would give up my life not to do what God has commanded me to do.” Can a man be so desperate to avoid God’s call that he is willing to die?

Finally, I find that running from God can be deceptive. God’s plan was not going to be thwarted by a rebellious prophet. Jonah just thought he was getting away from his call. If I die, I won't have to go. But he was only deceiving himself. God had prepared what the Bible calls “a great fish” to swallow Jonah.

Running from God is always a downward spiral. Please note that Jonah went:

  • Down to Joppa – Jonah 1:3
  • Down to a ship – Jonah 1:3
  • Down into the ship – Jonah 1:5
  • Down into the sea – Jonah 2:3

But when he turned in repentance to God he started an upward journey. It says in chapter one verse ten, “Then the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto the dry land.” That was the first step in the right direction for Jonah.

What about you? Are you running from the call God has placed on your life? Some are running from the call to salvation. Others are running from the call to a Christlike life. Still, others are running from the call to ministry.

Remember that running from God is difficult, it is dangerous and it is deceptive. Also, never forget that when you are running from God you are on a downward journey. Turn to Him today. Be obedient to His call. He will lift you up.

 

Jonah

God had said to Nineveh you go,
Warning of judgment He would send their way.
Jonah knew that God would mercy show.
 So he then tried to run and disobey.

To the sea, he ran so he could hide
And keep from warning Nineveh to turn.
God sent a storm to arrest his flight.
“Throw me in!” he cried God’s will to spurn.

God sent a great fish to meet him there.
Down in the depths of the see Jonah went.
And in the great fish, he did despair.
When three days had passed he did repent.

To Nineveh, he finally did preach.
And all those who heard in sorrow did bow.
From the poor to the king it did reach.
Their allegiance to God each did avow.

Now Jonah on a hill he did scowl.
Not happy with God, for death he appealed.
 From scorching sun a plant for a cowl,
He sat and brooded refusing to yield.

God sent a worm to destroy his shade.
And he once again was moved in despair.
“Why are you concerned for the plant's fate
Yet for thousands of souls, you had no care?”

The question’s the same for us today
As we travel this road the world to see.
Millions of lives that have gone astray

They’re waiting, the message of hope to hear.

We often despair for the small things
And turn our backs to the big things of life.
While God is tugging on our heart strings
To share the message of hope that is Christ.

 

© Copyright 2017 by Passages Ministries. All rights reserved.
For permission to use this poem contact Passages Ministries.

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