Run Pt. 5 | Jonah: The Astonishing True Story

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Pt. 5 The Cure for Running
Jonah 1:15-17 “So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. 16Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.
17And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.”

So what does God do when someone runs?

At first, if you’re like me, your thought is of the terrible consequences. “God punishes those who run from Him!” After all, He created a storm and a giant, awful fish to eat Jonah. But here is the amazing truth, and you have to get this.

The storm wasn’t just Jonah’s punishment, it was really Jonah’s salvation. Hear me out. The storm was raging and Jonah accepted the fact that this was God’s wrath being sent to him. So he decided that there was no more running. He stopped running, he turned and faced God and the storm, and he dove into the waves of his consequences. But just below the storm (the wrath of God) lay a fish prepared by God (salvation). It was when Jonah had no other choice that he plunged himself, by faith, into the wrath of God fully expecting death, that he actually experienced the Lord’s salvation.

Now here’s the deal, God hasn’t really changed. The way He dealt with Jonah is how He is still dealing with us. I mean not with a big fish, of course, but the same principles. We run from God, and His wrath is sent towards us. But instead of us receiving the wrath when we stop running, we receive grace and forgiveness. Isn’t that the story of the cross? God’s wrath is poured out on the world. But Jesus steps in and takes the wrath upon Himself, so all that’s left for us is salvation. In the end, what we believe to be an ocean of God’s wrath turns out to be an ocean of forgiveness and acceptance.

Jesus taking God’s wrath was the most extreme act of love the world has ever seen. It has provided us an escape. But the escape is only through Jesus; by putting our trust in Him and what He did for us. We dive into Jesus, who took the wrath of God, and we receive salvation. And not just salvation from God’s wrath, but salvation from our own rebellion as well. The cure for your running always has been and always will be Jesus’ love. So stop running. When you turn and face the consequences of your sin, you will escape the punishment. You will embrace His love and you will live.

About two years ago I went to the funeral of a man I don’t know. The grandpa of two sisters in our student ministry was honored and remembered at this funeral. As I sat in the service, they had several family members and friends stand up to talk about Robert. It was made apparent from the very beginning that Robert was a good man. He loved God, he loved his family, and he loved his friends. As I looked around the auditorium I was impressed to see how many people came to remember Robert. He had lived a life that was impactful. He served in the church, he served in the city, he served in his family, and his life influenced many people, and they had all come to the funeral to honor his memory.

But as the service went on, the Pastor said something that struck me. He said, “We’re not here to make Robert out to look like he was perfect, because he had his flaws.” These girls’ Papaw had times in his own life when he ran from God. But here’s the thing that made him such a good man. In those times that he ran from God, it wasn’t long before he would stop, turn to face Jesus, and make the courageous decision to dive into the ocean of God’s wrath only to find it to be an ocean of His love.

I know you’re not perfect. But Jesus’s grace says you don’t need to be. His grace simply says, “Stop running. I lived perfectly FOR you. I took the wrath FOR you.” So let me ask you a question; When your time has come, and the funeral is yours, will people remember you as a good man or woman who loved God and loved people? I know you’ve already sinned, you’ve already messed up, and maybe your reputation right now is pretty lousy. But listen; that can change. You can be remembered as a man or woman who glorified Jesus if you stop running from God, face the consequences, and live in grace. If you want that, your only hope is in Jesus Christ.

James Robinson has been the Youth Pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Grand Prairie, TX since June 2014. He was drawn to work with students because he believes teenagers are in a highly moldable stage of life where it is absolutely imperative they allow the Gospel to identify who they are. As a Student Pastor, James says he has the inexpressible joy of regularly speaking that life-shaping Gospel into the students' lives.