Flight… God Delayed?

Posted: March 11, 2014 in Podcasts, Who Is "me"...?
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Michel de Montaigne said, “I know well what I am fleeing from but not what I am in search of.

How true that statement is and today I’m looking at the word or act of flight or fleeing in regards to my circumstances.

Flight… an act or instance of fleeing or running away, a hasty departure.

As i thought about flight i couldn’t think of a better example than the story of Jonah. M.T. Anderson expresses what Jonah must have felt. “We all flee in hope of finding some ground of security”

The story of Jonah and the Whale, is one of the oddest in the Bible. It begins with God speaking to Jonah, son of Amittai, commanding him to preach repentance to the city of Nineveh.

Jonah found the order unbearable. Nineveh was well known for its wickedness, and it was the capital of the Assyrian empire, one of Israel’s fiercest enemies.  Jonah, was stubborn and did just the opposite of what he was told. We talked about people like him in previous character study posts.

He went down to the seaport of Joppa and booked passage on a ship to Tarshish, heading directly away from Nineveh. The Bible says, Jonah “ran away from the Lord.” He took flight by making a hasty departure. No fight just flight.

In response, God sent a violent storm, which threatened to break the ship to pieces.  The terrified crew cast lots, determining that Jonah was responsible for the storm.  Jonah told them to throw him overboard. Again he was deciding to take flight by making another hasty departure.

First they tried rowing to shore, but the waves got even higher.  Afraid of God, the sailors finally tossed Jonah into the sea, and the water immediately grew calm. The crew made a sacrifice to God, swearing vows to him.

But… instead of drowning, Jonah was swallowed by a great fish, which God provided.  In the belly of the whale, Jonah repented and cried out to God in prayer.  That’s a reminder of yesterdays verse that said prayer was an essential part of our warfare.

Jonah was in the giant fish three days.  God commanded the whale, and it vomited the reluctant prophet onto dry land.  This time Jonah obeyed God.  He walked through Nineveh proclaiming that in forty days the city would be destroyed.  Surprisingly, the Ninevites believed Jonah’s message and repented, wearing sackcloth and covering themselves in ashes.  God had compassion on them and did not destroy them.

How quickly we forget… “Again Jonah goes back to questioning God.” This fits with the verse from yesterday which said, “This is no afternoon athletic contest that you will walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours.” Jonah was angry because Israel’s enemies had been spared.  Jonah touches every aspect of yesterdays verse. “Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.”  When Jonah stopped outside the city to rest, God provided a vine to shelter him from the hot sun.  Jonah was happy with the vine, but the next day God provided a worm that ate the vine, making it wither.  Growing faint in the sun, Jonah complained again.

God scolded Jonah for being concerned about a vine, but not about Nineveh, which had 120,000 lost people.

Jonah’s answer to everything was flight… an act or instance of fleeing or running away, a hasty departure.

The world’s view. The next part of the fight, flight, freeze process is to know what works for you when you are feeling distressed.  How do i calm myself and what is helpful in managing difficult emotions.  Remember the object is not to avoid my feelings, which are not helpful, but rather to acknowledge and honour them. As has been said “pain is unavoidable, suffering is optional”.  Suffering comes from trying to avoiding feelings.  Simply acknowledging what I am feeling is not enough it is also important to know what to do when i acknowledge them, how to sooth and calm myself.  The worlds counselors offer a variety of ways to accomplish this, maybe there are cultural or spiritual practices such as drumming, chanting or singing, praying, deep breathing, walking, stretching, writing, talking, listening to music.

Jonah couldn’t run fast enough nor far enough to get away from his circumstances and from my experiences neither can i nor those that i see trying to do so. As for Jonah’s attempted flight to escape… well it actually made things worse.

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