Fleeing God’s Presence

Journal Entry // December 7, 2021

But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the LORD.

Jonah 1:3 ESV

How often do I react to God’s calling in a similar manner to that of Jonah? To know without a doubt the command of God or his determination to place me where I am or his will to lead me through the desert. To know his hand upon me and to then flee from his presence because I dislike what he desires. To turn 180 degrees from the direction he leads and run from his presence. I wouldn’t say I do this often. Generally, I probably just grumble. But yes, there are times where I am actively disobedient to God’s sure direction in my life.

The heart of the matter is pride. Jonah did not want to preach to his enemies lest they turn and find salvation. He knew God was merciful and would forgive if they only repent and turn to him. Jonah did not want that to happen. He wanted the enemies of his people to receive God’s wrath, not his mercy. So he fled. Wanting to escape his calling and duty. He went the complete opposite direction of Nineveh.

I would like to say that I never reached the same conclusion as Jonah, but that wouldn’t be accurate. My heart reaches that conclusion so easily that it shocks me to reflect upon my past decisions. Sin distorts my mind and thoughts. I find myself fleeing the presence of God to indulge my sinful cravings. It’s not always a direct 180 degree turn from the Lord. Sometimes it’s just a veil that I put on. Sometimes it’s turning off all the lights in the dark. Sometimes it’s convincing myself that it’s just a small sin, one that’s not even worth mentioning. Self deception is the core issue of my prideful heart.

It’s a simple matter to turn my eyes away from Christ and gaze upon the offerings of the world and the trappings of my own flesh. Yet there is also a simple solution… Repent and believe. It feels so wrong to keep coming back to this. It feels like I am old enough and mature enough to know better. And I do know better. And I still go after the world and the flesh. So Jesus keeps calling me back. Jesus keeps pursuing me. Jesus never leaves and never forsakes. I can always turn to him for forgiveness and healing.

I want to be more mature in my faith. I still feel like a little child most of the time. I find it hard to move the knowledge of Christ from my mind to my heart. To engage my soul and my strength for these same purposes. It requires all four working together. My whole being engaged in loving God. Simple, yet difficult. I need discipline. Discipline to strengthen faith. Discipline to keep my whole being engaged in loving God. That’s my heart’s true desire.