How many times have I caught myself trying hard to run away? Avoiding situations, people or even myself. I met up with a friend recently and what she shared left me broken. She had been contemplating suicide to escape a certain situation of her life. With great grief, she admitted that such thoughts keep running through her mind. The thought of her taking her own life gave me shudders.
If I were in her position would I do the same? Would my thoughts resemble hers? My own apprehensions were checked soon during the day when I found myself trying to run away from having a conversation with a person. I was scared to return a call simply because I was not ‘feeling’ up to it, and I dreaded facing the situation heads up. So, much like an ostrich I buried my head in the sand providing plenty of lame excuses for my decision not to call the person back.
Wasn’t my fear equal to my friend’s? Both of us were running away. She from life, I from a conversation. But running it was nevertheless. God has his own way of teaching us about our idiosyncrasies.
Here I was in New Delhi, the capital of a recently demonetised nation running away from a telephonic conversation. It was as modern day as the story of Jonah could get.
Whenever I share the story of Jonah to wide eyed kids, I have often wondered why the prophet despite knowing God would think of running away from his purpose? Well, I found out in no uncertain terms yesterday.
It is the fear of things not going our way. The fear of not wanting to face tomorrow if it is not as we want it to be. Jonah was simply not willing to face the situation where a people as wicked as the Assyrians would be forgiven by God! He knew it could very much be a reality. Nonetheless, it was a reality he was not willing to put up with. So instead, he had to put up with being hurled into the raging waves and with the nasty smelling gastric juices of a giant fish!
Granted that the fear is as real as it gets, what can I do? I can stop and ask for grace. I can always cry out to God for help to face my situation. Even when my feet want to run away as fast as possible, my heart can still whisper a plea for grace.
David found himself in such situations often. One such incident was when he sought to run away from the king of Gath by acting as a madman. And what a great actor David turns out to be! (besides being a gifted musician and able leader). He essayed the role of a maniac so convincingly that the king dismissed him thinking he was just a mad man on the loose.
Painfully aware that all his idiosyncrasies were fueled by fear, David says, “This poor man called out to the Lord and he delivered him from all his fears” (Psalm 34). Calling out to the Lord is the antidote to running. It is the all-time cure for modern day Jonahs like me provided we are willing.
This sure gives me hope that I shall soon return that call.