Runaway Heart

Looking at David last week we saw how someone who has is a “Man after God’s own heart” responds to God.

Was David perfect by the standards of Man? Not by a long shot…If we measure perfection by God’s stick was David perfect for God’s purpose?

Acts 13:22 (NIV)

“…he will do everything I want him to do.”

God says yes.

Did David live a flawless life? Not by a long shot…

What made him perfect was not a flawless human existence. What made him perfect was his reaction and his relationship to God. David pursued God at every turn. Whenever there was a question about what to do, David’s reaction was to do what God wanted done.

Last week after the service during a conversation I was hit with the story of another man from the Bible who represented the opposite side of this story. Can you think of someone in the Bible who would not stand for God’s correction? For me two names jumped to my mind. Saul and Jonah We have spoken about Saul. Tall, good looking, classic quarterback of the team.

1 Samuel 9:2

“…an impressive young man without equal among the Israelites—a head taller than any of the others.”

If you see 1 Samuel as a whole you will see that by the end of his tenure as King Saul became a man after his own heart, not God’s. Saul fully adopted the concept, “It’s faster to ask forgiveness then it is to ask permissions.” But if you want to see blatant disregard for the will of God you must look to Jonah. A man called by God.

Jonah 1:1-3

1 The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”

 3 But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish.

Did you catch that? God called him to do a specific thing.

His reaction… RUN!

But of course he had a good reason right? Let see if we can find it. It’s kind of odd, but we really don’t find out why until quite late in the story. But when we do it seems so familiar to us.

Jonah run’s

… he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD.

Does this trick ever work? No, but we sure try.

·       “Lord I don’t want to do that.”

·       “It isn’t the ideal situation. I am sure I could give you a better idea.”

·       “I can’t work for him he’s lazy, selfish, ignorant, etc.”

·       “Lord it’s so far from my house.”

·       “Those people don’t like me.”

·       “Those people don’t do it the way I think they should.”

Jonah boards the ship to “get away” from God. Good luck with that! As soon as he leaves the shore we see the reaction of God when His will is not done.

Jonah 1:4-17

4 Then the LORD sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. 5 All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship.

      But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep. 6 The captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us, and we will not perish.”

 7 Then the sailors said to each other, “Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity.” They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah.

 8 So they asked him, “Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?”

 9 He answered, “I am a Hebrew and I worship the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land.”

 10 This terrified them and they asked, “What have you done?” (They knew he was running away from the LORD, because he had already told them so.)

 11 The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?”

 12 “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.”

 13 Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before. 14 Then they cried to the LORD, “O LORD, please do not let us die for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, O LORD, have done as you pleased.” 15 Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. 16 At this the men greatly feared the LORD, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows to him.

 17 But the LORD provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights.

Jonah spends his time in the fish gripping and complaining to God right? No, in fact he spend time praising God and thanking him for his life. This is not a story about a man who hates God. No, this is a man who dearly Loves God. But instead we see a man who is letting his feeling blind him.

The fish gently delivers Jonah to the shore… OK actually, “2:10 …it vomited Jonah onto dry land.

Again the Lord reminds Jonah of his plan. “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.” – Jonah 3:2

Because Jonah lacked enthusiasm God failed, right? No, in fact the entire community of Nineveh came to the Lord. Men, Women, Kings, peasants, even the animals cover themselves in sack cloth in prayer and supplication. They all give up their evil ways. A complete and amazing success!

Jonah’s reaction?

Jonah 4:1-3

1 But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. 2 He prayed to the LORD, “O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. 3 Now, O LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”

Why did Jonah run? What upset him? He knew that God would be as good to these people as He had been to him. He didn’t think these people deserved God’s grace and compassion. Jonah determined that because he didn’t like these people that he was going to run from his calling from God.

God’s reaction should be familiar. He asked the same question of Job and of his friends. God asks Jonah, “Have you any right to be angry?” – Jonah 4:4

But I have a good reason to run away from my calling Lord!

·       “I don’t want to do that.”

·       “It isn’t the ideal situation. I am sure I could give you a better idea.”

·       “I can’t work for him he’s lazy, selfish, ignorant, etc.”

·       “Lord it’s so far from my house.”

·       “Those people don’t like me.”

·       “Those people don’t do it the way I think they should.”

If God has called you to do something does he also give you a choice about whether to do it? Yes he does. But let me make sure you get this. He will never stop putting it in your way until you choose to do it. You will never be happy until you choose to do it His way.

Let’s listen to God’s words to Jonah.

Jonah 4:5-11

5 Jonah went out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. 6 Then the LORD God provided a vine and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the vine. 7 But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the vine so that it withered. 8 When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.”

 9 But God said to Jonah, “Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?”

      “I do,” he said. “I am angry enough to die.”

 10 But the LORD said, “You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?”

God’s message to Jonah is His message to us today. If God’s call us to do His work it is His gain we are working for.  If we are have the heart of David then it is when God wins that we win. Our Joy is when he has joy.  

When we spend time at the hospital with a loved we are not doing it for our joy. But because of love and relationship.

When we drive for hours to comfort a friend we are not doing it for our joy. But because of love and relationship.

When we listen to our great grandmother tell us the same story for the 25th time we are not doing it for our joy. But because of love and relationship.

When you teach children for hours who are screaming and running and jumping with no concern for you, it is not for your joy. It is because of Love and relationship with God.

When you spend hours fixing toilets, repairing roofs, cleaning the Church, it is not for your joy. It is because of Love and relationship with God.

When you spend 20 hours a week studying the word of God to be allowed to deliver a half hour message, it is not for your fame or joy. It is because of Love and relationship with God.

That is relationship to God, through His people.

If you have let anyone or anything sour your heart to God’s calling or cause you to get on a boat to Tarshish,  STOP. You will never have a moments peace until you do. Who are you working for? Which person you are working with is not a child of God.

Aren’t we all?

Love God, Love all of His people.

Do what He has blessed you with the talent and calling to do. Then stand back and sing the praises as He gives his grace to those who don’t deserve it. People like me.

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About toddcbrown

The body of Christ will never grow if the Pastor is the one using his gifts to MAKE IT grow through some cool program or inspiring turn of a phrase.
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