“But Jonah ran away from the Lord . . . Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose” (Jonah 1:3-4, NIV).
It’s 3 a.m. and I’m awakened by the sound of rain pelting against the bedroom windows. The thunder is so close it shakes the house. In a couple of hours, I’ll run my first half-marathon. Apparently, I’ll run this 13.1 miles in a storm.
But the combination of a long-distance run and a stormy weather forecast reminds me I’m not the first guy to run in a storm. Jonah might have been the first. He was running from God. He was running from God’s will. He was running from an assignment God gave him that he did not want to do. He was running from being a preacher in a place called Nineveh. And while Jonah was running, God sent a storm.
Storms get our attention. They wake us up in the night. God sends the storms. He speaks through them. And like Jonah, I’m a runner. And this morning, I find myself running in a storm.
You hear a lot of preachers talk about how they ran from the ministry. Honestly, I never ran from the ministry, but I’ve done a lot of running from God in the ministry. I have a feeling that’s what Jonah did. I’m not convinced Jonah ran from being a prophet as much as he ran from being a prophet in Nineveh. Jonah didn’t mind being a prophet, but he wanted to pick some of the specifics like where he’d get to serve. And I’ve never minded the idea of being a minister, but I’ve often wanted to decide some of the details for myself about what exactly that involved.
So, like Jonah, I’ve run from God. I’ve not run for the same reasons Jonah ran. But I am a runner. I’ve run because I’ve felt inadequate to lead in places He’s sent me. I’ve run because I‘ve felt unworthy to serve in some of the positions. I’ve run because I’ve felt inferior in my abilities when compared to others more gifted and qualified. I’ve run because I felt I wasn’t making any difference. I’ve run because I’ve been overwhelmed by a job that seemed too big for me. I’ve run because I just flat wanted a change of scenery.
But you can’t run forever without God overtaking you. And while Jonah was running, God came in a crashing storm to stop him, wake him up and turn him around. What a wonderful reminder of the sovereignty of God! God is sovereign to send the storm to stop the runner. After all, God is sovereign over both the storm and the runner.
Well, it’s really stormy outside. But I’m lacing up my Asics and running this half-marathon anyway. After all, I read in the Bible that God meets runners in the storm. I need that today.
God is sovereign over the storm. And God is sovereign over the runner. I need that today, also.