I used to be a runner, well of sorts. Actually, it might be better described as more of my love-hate relationship with running. I had a difficult time being committed to the regiment needed to be obedient to being successful. Selfishness, fear of not succeeding, criticism of my effort, all put up stumbling blocks in my path. So eventually the minor injuries, time constraints, and things like an aging body made the excuses for not running easier to accept.
Today, I can be a runner, a runner of another sort. Actually, I fight being this runner, too. Just like Jonah running to the sea, hiding out on a boat, I think “I’m “out of sight, out of [His] mind.”
Whether it be a situation that involves confrontation [I’d rather shirk away], or something I really, really don’t want to do [sound familiar Jonah], or difficulties with work, ministry, or with family [places where I should be ok,right?], or maybe it was just good old conviction of sin [ugh, that’s never comfortable] – I’d run.
Ashamed to say. I’d run. Run away from God. Run away from home and family. Run away from church. Run away from work. Run away in search of something that would be easier, more comfortable [for me], and definitely less confrontational. I’d run straight into hiding and avoidance.
Just like in my “sport” of physically running, I could easily find excuses to not be spiritually obedient. Struggling with who I am, who I believe myself to be, makes it easy to listen to the voice that wants to defeat me.
Sometimes pure selfishness causes me to run. Surely, I know what’s best for me, no matter what God thinks or says.
Sometimes simple fear causes me to run. What if I fail? What are others going to think? I’ve been criticized so much in the past.
Sometime lack of basic trust causes me to run. What’s this going to cost me? Does this mean I have to give up my plans?
No matter what my reason, I have seen and at times paid a high cost for turning away and trying to run and hide from my Creator.
Looking at the story of Jonah. He paid dearly for his rebellion. He suffered embarrassment, terror of being in the belly of whale for 3 days, and the heavy burden of guilt. But his running not only affected just Jonah. His running away from being obedient jeopardized the lives of innocent people. There is always fallout from running.
How many people have walked away from friends and family, saying “I can do what I want to do. It’s my life.” What I have learned, and continue to learn even today, running away doesn’t ever truly get rid of the problem, or change the real circumstances. Whether it be my own running, or the running away of someone close to my life a terrible price is paid and others are hurt in the process.
Yet, there can be a different ending to the story of running away. Our Abba Father is forgiving. Just like with Jonah, He kept after him as long as it was necessary. And He is faithful and will keep after His Own as long as is necessary.
So why do we continue to run?