Read: Jonah 1
Focus Verse: Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?” declares the Lord. “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” declares the Lord. Jeremiah 23:24 NIV
Daddy was getting ready for us to go to the grocery store to pick up some much-needed groceries. Since he was divorced from my Mom, he rarely kept a good stock of food until I came to visit on weekends. I was an active six-year-old who loved playing outside. I really didn’t want to stop what I was doing, so I hid behind the bushes beside our house. Finally, he came out and called, “Charlaine, it’s time to go.” Hiding was fun, sort of like playing hide-and-seek, but he didn’t know he was playing the game, too. As he rounded the corner of the house, I snuck behind an old car parked in our driveway. “Charlaine! It’s time to go!” he yelled a bit louder. Afraid I would get in trouble with Dad, I ran around the back of the house and snuck inside the back door. When he came in to pick up his car keys and wallet, he caught a glimpse of me in my yellow pants hiding behind the end of the sofa. “Charlaine. It’s time to go. I’ve been looking for you. Where have you been?” I popped up to see the concerned look in his eyes. I felt terrible that I hurt Dad’s feelings causing him to worry.
What’s the Deal?
We don’t always want to do what God, our Heavenly Father, wants us to do. So we run away and hide from Him much as I did with my Dad. We hide when we do something we shouldn’t because of fear of His disapproval. It is both disconcerting that God sees what we’ve done and when we think He doesn’t see the trouble we are in. What a comfort to know, though, that when we run and hide from Him, He does see us in the circumstances we’ve created. He also knows how we got into those situations, ready to reach out to us when we call on Him. God always sees and cares deeply for us.
In Jonah 1, God had a mission for Jonah to go to Nineveh and call them to repent. Indignant that God would have him go to them, he decided to take a spur-of-the-moment trip on a ship to Joppa via Tarshish. Evidently, the people of Nineveh weren’t on Israel’s Top Ten Favorite Neighbors list. While on board the vessel, God rocked the boat–with a storm, that is. The men on the ship realized someone’s god was angry. Jonah headed down to a cot below deck to hide by sleeping. But the sailors woke him up and asked Jonah to pray for God to save them. The storm continued to toss the ship wildly. They decided to find out why this calamity was happening to them by casting lots. The result: it was because of Jonah. They tossed him overboard to save the ship, and a large fish swallowed Jonah. Why? All because Jonah didn’t want to do what God asked him to do. The fish spit Jonah out onto dry land later and finally did what God told him to do: go to Nineveh and tell the people to repent.
Calamity fell upon Israel because they chose to disobey God too many times in the book of Jeremiah. Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, prayed on behalf of Israel for God to save them from certain destruction by the invaders from neighboring countries. In our focus verse Jeremiah 23:24, we learn that no one can hide from God. He sees them, but He also sees their situation with loving compassion. Although they reaped horrible consequences from their idolatrous practices, God loved them deeply, showing them love in their plight.
My dad never spanked me or sent me to time out. All it took was his disapproval and seeing the hurt in his face that caused me to change my ways. If I said to him, “Daddy, I want to stay and play longer,” he may have postponed or canceled the outing. If there were a reason why we needed to go somewhere, like the grocery store, he would explain to me, “Charlaine, we need a few grocery items. You can play again when we come back home.” How much more our Heavenly Father loves us that we can trust He only wants the best for us.
We often do what we want to do, whether it pleases God or not. We hide from Him by going the opposite direction of where He wants us to go. Maybe He wants us to help in the church nursery, but we hide out in the choir on Sunday mornings. We engage in sinful practices that lead to disastrous consequences like overspending when shopping online or viewing porn. We may opt to fully participate in yoga class rather than go to church. Still, God knows where we are and what we’ve done while He sees the messes we’ve created for ourselves. Although the notion that God always sees us may not feel comforting, we can rest assured that God has our best interest in mind. When we reap the consequences of our sin, He already knows and reaches out to us, offering to help us out of it. He cares for us far more than any earthly parent ever could.
When you do something you know goes against God’s Word and His plans, stop for a moment when you feel like you want to sneak and hide from Him. Do you stop praying, reading your Bible, and skip church? Do you feel smug, like you got away with something you shouldn’t have done? When you feel like this, ask yourself, “Why do I want to hide from God?” or “Do I feel like I got away with something I shouldn’t have done?” Know that the consequences will catch up with you. It always does. The best way to reduce its impact is to confess it to God in prayer. Next, ask Him what He would have you do instead. You may be surprised to learn that you can have a more intimate relationship with Him than ever when you stop hiding and start following Him closely.
Do you need prayer? Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Many blessings to you!
Used with permission from Charlaine Martin.