“He [Jonah] was fleeing form the presence of the Lord.” (Jonah 1:10)
I am reading through the massages in the Running Away section of our Lenten Study book, “Water in the Desert.” So many accounts in the Bible of people running away, running from, God; Jonah, Hagar, Jeremiah, Paul, Judas etc.. Okay, they may not physically run, but through sin, doubt, despair, they turn away from, run from, God.
What is it that makes us run from God? For Jonah it was being asked by God to do something scary, “Go to Nineveh, and speak out against it.” (Jonah 1:1) For Jeremiah it was public speaking, “I am too young, God; don’t have the right words.” (Jeremiah 1:6) For Paul it was persecuting others for their faith.”(Acts 9:5)
Fear is at the heart of these, which seems strange, because those times/experiences in my life when I have been most afraid are the ones that send me running as fast as my prayers and feet can carry me back into the safety of God’s embrace.
What else makes us run from God? Could it be, dare I say it, “complacency?” I remember the horror and sadness of 9/11, and in the days shortly thereafter people crowding into churches for comfort, for prayer, for answers. Church is a place we can go to when the realities of life leave us aching and without words.
But it need not be as big as 9/11. Loneliness, hopelessness, despair, fear, failure, disappointment; they catch us all at times, and can chip away at our souls and diminish the life within us. The outer walls of our life look good; house is clean, kids are well, job pays the bills, “I’m content.” But the structure inside is barely holding; “Church? There’s nothing there for me.”
Question; can it hurt? Pick a church, any church, and check it out. Churches aren’t perfect, and the people who go there aren’t perfect, either. But chances are what you’ll find there are people like you (and me), looking for comfort, searching for answers, and trusting in words they know are not their own.
Church people aren’t perfect. In fact our imperfection, our brokenness, our need for grace, and for a hope bigger than we any can find on our own; it is this that draws us back, limbs exhausted, hearts heavy each week, and somehow (call it a miracle) sends us back out again into the world filled with joy, gratitude, and praise.
Don’t run from God. Run to God. Run to church. It’s a beginning.