The Cost of Running

 

I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;

I fled Him, down the arches of the years;

I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways

Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears

I hid from Him, and under running laughter.

…From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.

But with unhurrying chase, 

And unperturbed pace,

Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,

They beat – and a Voice beat

More instant than the Feet –

‘All things betray thee, who betrayest Me.’

~The Hound of Heaven by Francis Thompson

This Sunday we’ll be continuing in our study of Jonah and we’ll be covering all of chapter one. Jonah has four main acts or movements. The first is in chapter one, where Jonah runs from God. In this part of the story we see Jonah’s determination to go as far away from God’s calling on his life as he can, and the cost of making that run. As the character from Thompson’s poem realizes – when we run from God, all the things we chase after for fulfillment will betray us. God won’t let them satisfy us. That’s not meanness on his part – it’s mercy.

In v 4-6 we see a contrast of actions. What are the pagan sailors doing? What is Jonah doing? Who is it that reminds Jonah what he should be doing? Compare the words of the ship’s captain to God’s original command to Jonah. What significance do you find there?

Jonah gets exposed as the epicenter of the storm in v7-10. When Jonah explains that his “occupation”, or job, is to fear (revere and serve) Yahweh we see a clear contradiction between his job description and his present way of life. The sailors catch it too. “You’re supposed to serve the God who made the sea, but instead you’re running from Him…….on OUR BOAT!?” When our culture tells us that what we do privately is our own business and has no bearing on others – do you believe that? Do you really believe that what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas? What sort of ways can you imagine that our resistance to God’s way of life affects those around us?

In v11-16 scholars are divided about what’s happening with Jonah. Some believe he’s coming to his senses and repenting because he feels bad for the sailors he’s brought into this. Others see this as just another move away from God’s original calling, to go to Nineveh. What do you think – is he repenting or not, and why? Have you ever made a move to fix an immediate crisis without really dealing with the root problem? How well did that work for you?

In v 14 we have the first prayer offered to God. Who does it come from? What seems significant about that to you?

Finally, in v17 we get to the big fish! What do you think – is the fish a judgment or a mercy…or both? Remember the Hound of Heaven – “All things betray thee, who betrayest Me”.

Hope you’re liking this study – I’m really enjoying it! See you Sunday!

One thought on “The Cost of Running

  1. What an awesome study!!! So the pagans are praying and Jonah is sleeping. The captain of the ship says, just as the captain of Jonah’s soul had said basically get up and go cry out your for your God..He offers Jonah the opportunity to call out to God….clearly he doesn’t as they begin casting lots obviously knowing that this was some kind of punishment at which point Jonah is exposed, called on the carpet even…How could you they ask? Clearly what happened in Vegas followed Jonah and put others in harms way…How painful to realize our resistance to God’s plan can harm others when we are called instead to help…So often we add to the chaos of situations when we could instead be that trusting servant who brings calm to the storms…When the disciples woke Jesus as he slept in the bottom of their boat in a raging sea, he arose and immediately spoke peace to the waves…How often do we use our words to fan the flames of conflict, or act out of fear instead of faith…Jonah missed yet another opportunity here, instead of praying to God for mercy, the sailors showed him mercy in not immediately throwing him over but trying to row back to land and again even there in that time frame Jonah could have prayed, repented and asked God to calm the seas, another chance given yet stubbornly refused..I don’t see repentance in his opting to be thrown in the sea..He chooses death to facing the life God is calling him to…It is the cowards way out, trust me though, I’m not judging Jonah, I get it, I can think of several times in life when I would have certainly preferred to die than walk through the circumstances ahead…This story will certainly encourage us otherwise! The pagans are the first to offer a prayer. It’s interesting on many levels…These pagans praying for mercy for harming the man of God, in essence their enemy, the one bringing harm on them, model the prayer he should have prayed for them… Maybe too this is a picture for Jonah that God could turn the hearts of the pagans in Nineveh too if he would simply pray, repent and obey…in both instances prayer for mercy on enemies is evident…Then the final mercy, the great fish as the poem eludes, prevents Jonah from escaping his plight. It is useless to resist his prod’s he will allow us no peace outside of His will and this is truly, truly, a GREAT mercy indeed!!!!! Can’t wait to explore this message together Sunday!!!

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