Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord. Jonah 1:-13 ESV
Blessed be the name of the Lord
from this time forth and forevermore!
From the rising of the sun to its setting,
the name of the Lord is to be praised!
The Lord is high above all nations,
and his glory above the heavens!
Who is like the Lord our God,
who is seated on high,
who looks far down
on the heavens and the earth? Psalm 113:2-6 ESV
A man named Bill had once worked for Grandfather Alden’s father, but one day long ago he had disappeared. Not only did Bill disappear, but also a lot of money that belonged to the Aldens also disappeared. It looked like Bill had stolen the money, and he ran away to another state where he lived as a hermit with a different name. He hid from the people who wanted to find him by going to a place they wouldn’t think to look. They had no reason to look for him in another state in a little cabin in the woods, so Bill stayed hidden for many years.
The prophet Jonah tried to do the same thing with God. The Lord told Jonah to go to the wicked city of Nineveh with the message that God was angry with them because of their sins, but Jonah didn’t want to do this. He ran away from God by going in the other direction across the Mediterranean Sea. Did Jonah really think God wouldn’t be able to see him or know where he was going? Probably what Jonah thought was that God didn’t really care about the lands and the people who were far away from his people and their land. Jonah thought that if he could get away from the people God loved, then the Lord wouldn’t bother to look for him, and he wouldn’t have to do what God told him to do. How foolish he was!
We are often just as foolish as Jonah was. We might think that God is with us when we are at church or when we pray and learn God’s word with our families, but when we are at work or school or hanging out with friends, we might think that God is far away and doesn’t really know or care what we are doing. We think of God as only being with us in a small part of our lives, while other things have nothing to do with him. But God is everywhere, and he cares about all the parts of our lives. There’s nowhere we can go and nothing we can do to hide from God. God loves all the people in the whole world, and he sent his Son Jesus to die for the sins of the whole world. He sends his people to share the good news with all the people in the world, and it’s when we are away from God’s people in our churches and homes that God wants especially to be with us. These are the times that he helps us and keeps us close to him, and we can share his love with other people who might not know about Jesus and his love and forgiveness.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for being with us all the time, everywhere we go. Help us to share your love with others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Warner, Gertrude Chandler The Yellow House Mystery Chicago: A. Whitman, 1953.