|Jonah fleeing to Tarshish|
TO CHEW ON: "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 from the presence of the Lord." Jonah 1:3
Did Jonah really believe that changing his location would get him out of God's sites? He certainly tried. A map of the Roman Empire shows Joppa and Tarshish (Tarsus) to be quite a boat trip away (one source estimated 225 Km.).
My Bible's commenter on Jonah observes: "Jonah is trying to escape the presence of the Lord. This indicates that he had a very localized view of God's presence or perhaps a belief that the Spirit of prophecy would not follow him there" - Charles W. Snow, commentary on Jonah, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1196.
Before we shake our heads and and smile knowingly at Jonah's foolishness, perhaps we should examine our own sensibilities. Though we may feel God's presence in church, do we realize that He also sees us / is with us when we are in places where His very existence is ignored or even denied—the neighborhood bar, a hockey game, a play or opera, the classroom?
Another time He may feel distant is when we're in trouble—on a back road at night beside our broken-down car, at the bedside of a loved one who is ill or badly injured, when we're opening yet another bill after the money is all spent...
God may feel absent but we can trust, with David that His awareness of us and presence with us doesn't waver by even a blink-second:
O Lord, you have examined my heart
and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do....
I can never escape from your Spirit!
I can never get away from your presence!
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I go down to the grave, you are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning,
if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
even there your hand will guide me,
and your strength will support me.
I could ask the darkness to hide me
and the light around me to become night—
but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
Darkness and light are the same to you"
Psalm 139:1-3; 7-12 NLT
PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for Your continuous awareness of me. Help me to live in a way that acknowledges Your presence. Amen.
MORE: "He knows me"
In his chapter "Knowing and Being Known" (Chapter 3 in Knowing God), J. I. Packer makes this reassuring declaration:
"What matters supremely, therefore, is not, in the last analysis, the fact that I know God, but the larger fact which underlies it—the fact that He knows me. I am graven on the palms of His hands. I am never out of His mind. All my knowledge of Him depends on His sustained initiative in knowing me. I know Him, because He first knew me, and continues to know me. He knows me as a friend, one who loves me; and there is no moment when His eye is off me, or His attention distracted from me, and no moment, therefore, when His care falters" - J. I. Packer, Knowing God, p. 41.**********
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.