You Can Run But You Can’t Hide

Caitlyn ScaggsBy Caitlyn Scaggs7 Minutes

“You can run but you can’t hide.”

If there was ever anyone in history that would affirm this truth, it would be Jonah. Do you recall his story in the Bible? In summary: he was the stubborn man who ended up in the belly of a big fish.

We read the story of Jonah in a small but mighty book in the Old Testament. In this biblical account, God gave Jonah a very clear command to go to Nineveh and tell the people of that city to repent of their evil ways. He was supposed to go as a direct messenger of the Lord. But Jonah refused. Interesting, scripture never indicates that Jonah told God “no” with words — but he most certainly did with his actions. He ran hard and fast — in the wrong direction!

Jonah got on a boat and attempted to flee to the furthest corner of the world. As he did, God sent a huge storm that threatened the lives of everyone on board. Ultimately, Jonah ended up getting tossed overboard, instantly stopping the storm, and landing him in the belly of a big, big fish.

For three days, Jonah prayed in the belly of the fish. Can you imagine how frightening that must have been? He was at the end of himself and at the end of his running.

When the three days lapsed Jonah was spit onto dry land and continued forward to minister to the people of Nineveh, as God had instructed Jonah to do. Amazingly enough, when you read the conclusion of the book of Jonah you learn that the people of Nineveh had a powerful change of heart and God spared them, demonstrating His mercy and grace.

What Does It Look Like When We Run from God?

We have so much to learn from Jonah! First, you may not ever tell God “no” directly as you sense His direction on your life. But your actions may be screaming “no” as you move in a direction counter to the one He has asked of you. It could show up as being stubborn in a sin or a refusal to follow a call He has placed on your life.

For someone who was raised in church, it could be withdrawing from a community of Christians and living in isolation. We know that our faith is made stronger by the relationships we have with other Christians and we also know God calls the church His bride. Walking away from church creates a chasm with God. This is often easy to justify because churches are made up of imperfect people, some who hurt others both intentionally and unintentionally. It can be hard to not use the hurts as a reason to walk away entirely. However, in doing so, you begin a slow jog away from God and before you know it, you may find yourself in an all-out sprint away from Him.

Another way people run from God is by trying to find healing and wholeness in places other than their relationship with God. Sometimes the quest for wholeness results in the pursuit of dangerous and destructive substances. Other times, it looks more innocuous on the surface and is coping and healing through things like exercise and hobbies. The issue here is that when we have a God-sized hole in our heart, we must pursue God as the solution — not an earthly solution. Anything but God is a superficial substitute.

These examples, which are not an exhaustive list, are ways that instead of running to God and embracing His ways, teachings, and purposes, we attempt to live on our own terms.

The End of Ourselves

Running from God can put us in our own “belly of a big fish.” As we run and refuse God’s best for our lives we invite heartache, pain, loneliness, and strife. Failing to follow God can result in consequences that are really uncomfortable at best and downright dangerous at worst. However, it is never too late to change direction!

Jonah demonstrated how powerful it is to do an about-face and run to the Father. God had mercy and grace waiting for Jonah. He allowed Jonah to continue on the original mission to Nineveh and in doing so, God used him as part of accomplishing His work. The story of Jonah is one that is saturated with patience, compassion, grace, and redirection.

That God who loved and guided Jonah is the same God who is ready to love and guide you. Yes, there are times that you may end up at the end of yourself — stuck in a place of darkness and fear — and yet we know that our big God is waiting to help you find your own dry land so he can wrap you in grace.

You can try and try to run from God but you truly cannot hide from Him. He loves you way too much to ever let you out of His sight and to ever turn His back on you. Will you stop running from Him and instead run to Him?