But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord , and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord . But the Lord sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken. So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging.Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
Jonah 1:3-4, 15, 17
As I was praying about what to talk about tonight, I opened my bible to a random page and it landed on Jonah 1. As I read it, all that came to mind was Jonah could run from God but he couldn’t hide from God.
When God told Jonah to go speak to the people of Nineveh, Jonah didn’t want to because he didn’t think they deserved to have a second chance or be forgiven of their sins. Jonah knew God would forgive them and it upset him. He refused and fled the presence of God. In this way, Jonah was hiding himself from Gods plan. But in reality, Jonah couldn’t hide from God.
God spoke to Jonah but Jonah left and went to Joppa, got on a boat and started his trip. The boat got far enough that when the storm came, they couldn’t just turn around and go back to shore. If you think about it, this must have been a few days from the time God spoke to him, he got to joppa, got on a boat, and then got out to sea. That’s a possible few days that Jonah had not heard from God. That’s a few days that God did not intervene with Jonah leaving. If I was Jonah, I probably would have thought that maybe God had forgotten about His plan or maybe God would be working on finding someone else to speak to Nineveh or maybe He changed His mind about Nineveh and He would just go ahead and destroy the city.
But, God sent a storm to Jonah. Even when Jonah may have thought God wasn’t going to stop him, God was pursuing him. When God has a plan for us, He doesn’t change it. He doesn’t forget it and we can’t hide from it. God is a God of love who loves us and pursues us. He chases after us when we run because His love is relentless.
There’s a quote I read by Darrin Patrick that says, “We hide; God seeks. That’s the bible. He’s relentless in His pursuit.”
Now believe it or not, our worldly desires reflect who God is.
We desire love; God is love. We desire life; God is life. We desire truth; God is truth. We desire justice; God is just. We desire to be noticed and pursued; God desires this too and does just that to us. If God is love, life, truth, just, and pursues us, then why do we hide from God?
Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.
We physically cannot hide from God but there are a few ways that we still try to.
When someone hides, it’s due to fears, shame, or confusion. Sometimes we are afraid of the future or God’s will, or we will sin and become ashamed or sometimes we just don’t understand why God does things and it can make us turn away from Him.
●Afraid of the future or Gods will. Jonah may not have been afraid of Gods plan but Jonah definitely didn’t like Gods plan.
Many of us do what Jonah did from time to time. God will tell us what He wants us to do and we don’t like that plan so we will hide from it and choose to ignore it like God never spoke to us just like Jonah did.
It may not even be something as big as what God told Jonah to do but it could be something as simple as God telling you to speak a word into someone’s life or pray for somebody.
I’m sure all of us can think of at least one moment where we didnt like what God told us to do so we either ignored it or tried to push it away.
When it comes to God’s plan, there is nothing to fear. God will not lead you to a place that His peace will not already meet you there. Yes you will have to get out of your comfort zone but that doesn’t mean you be left without comfort. Jesus says in John 14:18, I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you.
You don’t have to hide from it. In fact you can’t hide from it even if you wanted to. God’s hand will always be on your life and He will never forget His plan for you. Just like when Jonah walked away from what God wanted him to do, God sent Jonah a storm. We can’t run or hide from God’s plan on our lives.
●Sometimes we’ll hide from God because of guilt or shame. It’s a natural tendency everyone has. Look at adam and eve. When they ate that fruit, they knew that they messed up. They became ashamed of what they had done and so they hid themselves.
Kind of like when you were a kid and did something you knew you were going to get in trouble for so you would hide out from mom and dad for a while.
That’s what adam and eve were doing. But then God comes and says where are you?
But He’s not saying where are you because He didn’t know where they were. He knew exactly where they were but He wanted them to acknowledge the fact that they were lost and He wanted them to come out from hiding and bring their problem to Him so He could start fixing it.
We do the same thing as adam and eve all the time. We will sin and then guilt and shame will come over us and we don’t want to take it to the Lord because now we are guilty and taking our sins to God means we have to stand guilty next to a holy innocent God.
But that’s the great thing about Him coming down to the cross! He took that sin you’re bringing to Him and He applied it to His life and then sacrificed it on the cross so it was gone before you ever brought it to Him!
He knows that we will mess up. He expects it. But He loves us, He pursues us like He pursued adam and eve. He wants us to bring these sins to the light. He wants us to talk to Him about these things. He wants to forgive us and help us change.
He doesn’t want to punish us. He wants to cover our nakedness.
Sometimes we will sin and then wait to pray about it because we are ashamed and we will try to make ourselves feel better before we pray about it but in reality, only Jesus provides peace over that guilt and Jesus provides the only way back into that intimate relationship that sin tried to destroy. We cannot fix our sin on our own. We cannot let that shame and that guilt keep us from the most important relationship of our lives.
Hebrews 4:16 says Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
We can come to God unashamed. The veil was torn so that we could come to God in our time of need. Yes we need to know that what we did was wrong and we need to turn from that but don’t let the guilt hold you back from God. The longer you hide the sin and try to make yourself feel better, the farther that sin will take you down a path of destruction.
Look at the Israelites, they lived a life of sin and never took it to the Lord. God says to them in Hosea 13:9 O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help. God tells them, “Look, you are trying to hide from me. But that lifestyle has only led to your destruction. You did it to yourself through your disobedience. But I want to help you. I want to restore you.”
●Then there’s hiding because of confusion. Job had a difficult run. He had lost everything he worked for. He lost his wealth, his children, his animals, his farm, his life, his health all in the matter of one evening. Job had lost everything. Then after he had lost everything, God was silent. Job was officially on a crazy emotional rollercoaster.
His friends tried to help him realize what he had done wrong and encourage him that everything happens for a reason. I could only imagine how confused Job must have been during that time. Not hearing from God, but hearing your friends tell you that God is punishing you and your wife telling you to curse God and die. Yet, Job never cursed God.
When situations similar to that happens in our lives and we are confused about what is happening, it is so easy to go into hiding. It’s easy to not know how to pray or what to pray for so you just kind of don’t. All you want to know is why is this happening and God doesn’t really give you an answer.
I love what God says to Job when He finally does answer him. He says (NLT)
“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much. Who determined its dimensions and stretched out the surveying line? What supports its foundations, and who laid its cornerstone as the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? “Who kept the sea inside its boundaries as it burst from the womb, and as I clothed it with clouds and wrapped it in thick darkness? For I locked it behind barred gates, limiting its shores. I said, ‘This far and no farther will you come. Here your proud waves must stop!’ “Does the rain have a father? Who gives birth to the dew? Who is the mother of the ice? Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens? For the water turns to ice as hard as rock, and the surface of the water freezes. “Can you shout to the clouds and make it rain? Can you make lightning appear and cause it to strike as you direct? Who provides food for the ravens when their young cry out to God and wander about in hunger?
Job 38:4-11, 28-30, 34-35, 41
As I read that, I was just in awe. It made me realize, those moments when I don’t understand, and I feel nervous about what the future holds and I just want to hide away from the world, I have nothing to worry about because everything is in God’s control.
God is orchestrating every bit of this world and here I am worrying about my tiny little problem compared to all that. If God is directing every little thing happening in this world, surely He is taking care of this little issue in my life. That’s what Job’s problem was to God, nothing to worry about. If Job had nothing to worry about and Gods not worried about it then surely I don’t have anything to worry about.
Now I say all that to come back to Jonah 2:3-4. These verses sum up my whole message. After Jonah was thrown overboard, he had a thought that ran across his mind and this needs to be our mindset. Jonah says For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me. Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple.
That’s the mentality we need. Right when Jonah thought it was over and he thought that God had forgotten about him and had cast him out of his sight, Jonah looked once again to the Lord.
When we want to go into hiding, we need to look to the Lord instead of hiding from the Lord.
Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah.
Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings,
Deliver me, O Lord , from mine enemies: I flee unto thee to hide me.
God is a hiding place. He is a safe hiding place. He is a sure hiding place. He is a secret hiding place, a comfortable hiding place, a strong hiding place, and a secure hiding place.
As I was working on this message and praying about the point that God wanted me to get across, it was that God is our refuge. We don’t have to be ashamed before Him. We don’t have to run in fear from His plan. We can come to Him with our confusions. He wants us to bring our problems before Him because He wants to help us.
He wants us to fully understand that He is our provider and He enjoys being our provider. He enjoys taking away those feelings of shame, confusion, and fear. He enjoys taking it away because He didn’t give those feelings to us.
How awesome is that? When life starts getting rough and we don’t know what to do and all we want to do is hide from the world, God wants us to come to Him and hide in Him, to hide in His presence. He enjoys us hiding in Him while He fights our battles for us, while we sit at a table and feast in the presence of our enemies.
It’s so wonderful to know that we have that place of peace that we can go to. Don’t go into hiding the way your flesh is used to, go into hiding in the Lord. Let Him surround you with peace and joy.
It makes me think of that song the kids sang for the back to school prayer. It may look like I’m surrounded but I’m surrounded by you. I love that. And not only can we hide in the Lord but we can take it another step further and hide the Lord in us.
One by being filled with the holy ghost of course but also by following psalms 119:11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. When I hear that, hiding the word in my heart, I think of my heart as a ton of roots to the rest of me and that the word is entangled in the roots of my heart and cannot be easily taken out. That word that I have hidden in my heart is a very powerful source. It protects me, keeps me in my pain, it leads me, it helps me grow, it overflows out of my heart and into my spirit and then out to where the world can see. It covers me and hides me when I want to hide. It gives me a place that I can go to when life knocks me down.
So if God is telling you to do something, don’t ignore it and hide from it. Pray about it and take it to Him and let God give you peace about it.
If you have sin in your heart and you’re ashamed to take it to God. Just do it. Go boldly to the Lord. He forgives instantly so you should take it to Him instantly. Let His presence consume you and take away that shame and give you joy.
And if life has knocked you down and you don’t know what to pray for or you just don’t understand what’s happening, just tell God how you’re feeling. Don’t hide from Him. The answers this world provides can’t give you peace the way God gives you peace.
When you want to go into hiding, go into hiding in the Lord. Get into His presence and get into His word and let Him surround you and give you peace about whatever you’re dealing with.