Jonah Runs from God
You can run, but you can't hide from God.
Jonah 1:1-17; 3:3
Have any of you heard about a man named Jonah? (Let children respond.) Jonah was a prophet of God; he would listen to God and tell the people what God said. One day, God said to Jonah, "Go to the city of Nineveh and tell the people who live there that they are a very wicked people and that they need to change their ways." Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh. He didn’t like the people in that city, and maybe he was afraid of them. So Jonah decided to run away and hide from God. He caught the first ship out of town and headed in the opposite direction from where God told him to go.
Well, Jonah learned a very important lesson that day. He learned that you might run from God, but you cannot hide. Jonah got on that ship and hid way down deep inside. "Surely God won't find me here," Jonah thought. But God sent a big storm and tossed that boat around so much that the other sailors thought they were going to drown. They found Jonah in the bottom of the ship and asked him, "Who are you and what are you doing here?"
Jonah answered, "I am a worshiper of the God of heaven, who made the land and the sea." Jonah went on to explain to the sailors that he was running from God because he didn't want to go to Nineveh as God had told him to do.
When the sailors learned that Jonah was running from God, the were even more afraid. "What should we do to stop this terrible storm?" the sailors asked.
"Throw me overboard into the sea," Jonah answered, "and the sea will become calm."
The sailors picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea and the storm stopped at once.
Did Jonah drown in the sea? No! God sent a great fish to swallow Jonah, and he was inside the fish for three days and three nights. Spending all that time inside the great fish gave Jonah plenty of time to think. He prayed to the Lord from inside the fish. He confessed that he had been wrong to run from the Lord and promised to fulfill his promises to God.
I think you know what happened next. God caused the fish to spit Jonah out onto the shore. Then the Lord spoke to Jonah again and said, "Get up and go to Nineveh and deliver the message that I have given you."
This time Jonah obeyed the Lord's command and went to Nineveh.
Just as God had something for Jonah to do, he has a plan for you and me. I hope we will learn a lesson from the story of Jonah. When it comes to doing what God wants us to do, we might run, but we cannot hide!
Our Father in heaven, we can’t hide from you. You know what we do and what we think. Give us the strength and courage to do all the things that you want us to do. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.