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When the boat is a rockin' ...

Are you a 'runner'? You know - that one who finds something just too hard, or totally unimaginable for the asking - so instead of embracing what is right there in front of you to do, you turn tail and run the other way. The worst form of 'running' is when it is away from God - away from obedience. Running away from God is seldom the answer to our problems. In fact, the harder and farther we run, the worse the problems seem to be magnified in our lives. Try as we might, God really cannot be escaped! There is just no hiding place from God! That said, why do so many of us try to get away from what he asks of us? It may be stubbornness (AKA pride), fear (AKA mistrust), or apathy (AKA not really caring). The worst part about 'running' from God is that others usually get wrapped up in the results of our 'running'. We may not have intended it to happen, but they are affected by our actions - even when they result in inaction!

Then they grilled him: "Confess. Why this disaster? What is your work? Where do you come from? What country? What family?" He told them, "I'm a Hebrew. I worship God, the God of heaven who made sea and land." At that, the men were frightened, really frightened, and said, "What on earth have you done!" As Jonah talked, the sailors realized that he was running away from God. (Jonah 1:8-10 The Message)

After boarding the ship to Tarshish, in clearly outright disobedience to what God had asked Jonah to do, there comes a huge storm that overwhelms the sailors and they are about to lose everything as a result of the tormenting seas. Amazingly, Jonah is able to sleep through the calamity his disobedience seems to be bringing into the lives of all the others around him - there is not one iota of guilt he has about his disobedience - at least not enough to keep him awake in a harrowing storm! Have you ever stopped to consider this? As I read this passage today, I had to stop and pause over this one. Look at where we find Jonah - in the depths of the ship - down deep into the hull of the ship. He is not just content to "get away from God", he is in deep hiding from those around him, as well! This is probably more telling about what really happens when we run from God - we feel the need to "duck and take cover" wherever we think we will not be discovered! This has been the pattern observed since the beginning of time. Adam and Eve ducked into the bushes and "made cover" in order to take cover! What comes as a surprise to me is just how comfortable Jonah was in his disobedience! He actually slept through the storm!

It is truly a dangerous place to find oneself - so comfortable in our outright disobedience that we just don't see the effect it has on those around us, much less the effect it has on us! Sometimes we think our disobedience only affects us, but I want to challenge each of us here just a little bit. Our disobedience has far-reaching effects, sometimes quite unrealized by us until it is too late to do much about it. We may not fully appreciate the impact it has on those God has placed in our lives - our loved ones, our friends, and even those God just brings across our paths for brief periods of time. Jonah did not know these folks on his trip to Tarshish - they were just innocently headed to the next sea port, unaware of the hazards which were just ahead for them. The truth is quite plain - no man is an island unto himself! Sin has an effect - on us and others! Here's the thing I want us to see this morning - Jonah was discovered (found out) by those on the journey with him. The moment comes when we will be discovered - the question is really who will do the discovery. Will it be God, personally touching us, and us responding to him? Or will it be someone God brings across our path, opening our eyes to our "running"? Either way works, but I tend to think the first way is a little better!

The grace of God cannot allow us to hide forever - God will find a place, a time, and a way to bring the discovery of our "running" to light for us - we cannot stay in the hull of the ship forever. I know this for a fact in my own life - every time I have "run for cover", the discovery of my hiding place is pretty much assured and it will be in pretty short order. I also know this - God's grace is sufficient! Whenever we realize we are running from God, the opportunity also exists to run "directly into his open arms" of grace! No sin is too great - no amount of disobedience too far reaching for his arms to encircle us. No shame is too deep - no amount of sin's effect too hard for him to restore! It may be your moment of uncovering your sin - your moment of being "discovered" today. If so, don't turn and run - reach out and be embraced! His grace awaits. Just sayin!

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