Word For It. . .

2Chronicles7:14-“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

You Can Run, You Cannot Hide

Running away is child’s play. At one time or another, for one reason or another, all of us have thought about running away. Thankfully, most are able to grow up, grow out of childish ideals, and take care of business.

Word for it: Perseverance: steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., esp. in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.

The first time I “ran away” was to the next-door neighbor’s house when I was four. Late that night I was ready to go home and make sure everyone was okay. It would be hard to put into words how disappointed I was that no one seemed to be distressed over my unhappiness.

Where the idea came from to leave home at such an early age is a mystery but apparently, I must have issued a challenge so my folks packed a bag and put me on the front porch. That is not recommended in this age of “weirdo competitions” but my dad always joked that he never expected to have a missing child when he came back to check on me! I should note that this was in 1964 when a wandering child did not immediately conjure up visions of abductions and unspeakable evils.

My older siblings were in school and seemed so smart and important that I decided to follow them to school one day…like Mary’s little lamb, willfully to the slaughter. Confidence in my ability to go it alone dissipated when I got to the four-lane highway. It comes to mind when I reminisce what the motorists must have thought to see a tiny child standing on the side of such a busy intersection but, not-to-worry, Mom was on my trail, switch in hand. I got a whipping all the way home and never tried it again.

Two women were in their yard as we went by and I was making a ruckus, to which they chided my mother for spanking me. She asked them if they would rather see me splattered all over the road. I think the possibilities of being “splattered” had more impact than the whipping!

Those were two instances in Columbus, Georgia, but by the time we got to the Panama Canal Zone while I was five, two of my three older siblings were on board with me to make our own way in the world. For some reason, as we were preparing what we would take with us, steak knives seemed imperative. One of the siblings was a boy so perhaps that has a bearing.

As we were going out the kitchen back door, after packing said steak knives, our garbage collectors went by and someone mentioned that they might tell on us, causing capture before getting very far. I know it was not my concern because I never did think too far ahead or much about consequences, but we chickened-out, nonetheless. I was so itching for adventure my disappointment was almost tangible.

The last time I ran away was again in Georgia at age thirteen. Now, I must tell you, there is a huge difference in running away when you are four and when you are a “young lady”.

Shirley was a friend I took up with at school. She was fifteen, wore wigs and gobs of make-up, and was still in the seventh grade. Shirley taught me how to cut school with boys who could drive!

When circumstances at home became nonconductive to my rebellion, Shirley told me I could stay at her house. Her mother worked nights, her older sister was more interested in boys than we were, and her two younger brothers did not care what anyone did as long as they got what they wanted.

Well, Shirley and I slept in the top bunk and I went to bed hungry. The next morning, there still was not any food in the house; Shirley’s mom was not pleased about having another child hanging around, and I was homesick. To this day, I can feel the emptiness and loneliness in Shirley’s home. In my mind’s eye, it was a dark and bare house without any food. Today I would be giving food to a family living with those circumstances. I never knew what had happened to Shirley’s dad but I remember that her mother was a nurse. That poor woman obviously having a rough time with four kids to tend made me realize how good it was to be in a home where I hoped to be welcomed back.

I walked from Shirley’s house with a heavy mind that morning, hiding in the ditch when the school buses passed by; I guess the possibility of the garbage men reporting me still in my head. After all these years, I can feel how miserable I was that morning.

When I got home, both parents were there waiting for me. I don’t know where they thought I had been or what I had done, but they were ecstatic to see me return in one piece! It was more of a, “What happened and how can we help?” reunion, which was like heaping buckets of guilt on my head! I kept trying to assure them that I was fine and they had not done anything wrong. That was the truth. I was fine once I was home. I realized in that one experience what wonderful parents and providers they were.

Those and many other mistakes could have turned out worse, a whole lot worse, but I have seen God’s hand over me like a protective shield many times. As an adult, when I make a decision and get in to a difficult situation, He is there. Sometimes allowing others too much circumference has brought on trouble but He is there protecting and nudging to “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

For a myriad of reasons, but for these obvious ones, I relate to Jonah’s predicament in the Bible. There are things we do not agree with and do not want to do but running away only prolongs the inevitable and usually causes problems not otherwise present.

Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh and preach to the heathens because he harbored hatred for the way they had been treating his people for years. Instead, he decided to run away. Jonah cannot be faulted for being human and he really must have thought he could find a place God could not see, but God does not recognize “on the lam”.

Jonah was thrown overboard of the “escape ship” he hired because the sailors were sure he was the cause of the storm that was going to get them all killed. Unacceptance is demeaning, but with Jonah gone, the storm ceased and the sailors praised a God they had not believed in a few minutes earlier. Jonah was finally on his way via a “big fish” and had inadvertently created converts that he probably never realized.

Jonah made it out of the belly of the big fish still resenting his mission to warn people he hated. The story does not indicate fear of these people, which would be understandable, even expected, considering their cruelty. Jonah proselytized, people repented, but Jonah never missed a beat in his griping and complaining.

Although he accomplished God’s goal, I ponder why God chose Jonah. He must have needed to learn that God has hope and patience for sinners just as he does the sanctified.

Perhaps he needed to know that he, Jonah, indeed, could make a difference. 

In all the excerpts, explanations, debates as to authenticity, and sermons I have heard and/or read concerning Jonah’s experience, I do not recall expansion on the fact that Jonah began changing lives before he left the ship and became a toy for marine life.

Whether intentionally or accidentally, every person makes an impression, leaving a mark.

Once given the privilege of life each of us has opportunities to influence lives. Good, bad, mediocre or indifferent are the only realities. 

9 Responses to “You Can Run, You Cannot Hide”

  1. marlajayne said

    Wow. Again, lots of good stuff. What really jumps out at me are the story about leaving home as a teen and Jonah’s story. Your story makes me think about the prodigal who came home from the “far country” because even though you were closeby, it was still “far” from the atmosphere of acceptance, love, and plenty in your home. Plus, I can just visualize you lying in the ditch hiding from the garbage collectors just like the prodigal living with the pigs. The way you had to hide, and the way he had to live were both “wake-up” calls.

    About Jonah, your phrase was great: “You can run but you cannot hide.” He knows where we and what we’re thinking at all times. What makes us think we can run away or squander our gifts or refuse to carry out our missions?

  2. wordforit said

    Thank you, marlajayne (still love that name…kinda sing-song;-). I come back to Jonah again and again. Where he went, Nineveh, is visible (or the ancient ruins, anyway) from where an American dining hall (tent) in Mosul was blown up a couple of Decembers ago. It’s all different but the same…
    Absolutely and Amen on the squandering gifts and neglecting missions/duties! Someone was telling me how angry they are that money sent for a certain project was misused. All we can do is know our intent and let God handle the rest.
    It isn’t my place to correct anyone else’s mistakes. Like Jonah, when we are “thrown overboard” (or preferably, walk away:-), we don’t always realize our influence!
    Thank you for your encouragement, marlajayne!
    God Bless and Keep You and Yours.

  3. marlajayne said

    I like the way you end your posts with a blessing of sorts…reminds me of the way Paul ended many of his letters.

    Another little thought about Jonah. While he knows that God is gracious and forgiving, he is unhappy with Him for his mercy on the people of Nineveh and pleads with his Creator to take his life. Jonah didn’t want to help these “sinners” in the first place, and after they repent and ask to be baptized, Jonah becomes angry and feels that the people of Nineveh don’t deserve to be saved. Does he (Jonah) deserve to be saved, he who tried to run and hide? Jonah apparently thinks so.

    I’ve always felt it was interesting that even though God forgave Jonah and gave him a second chance, he somehow felt that the Ninevehites (sp.?) didn’t merit it.

  4. wordforit said

    Nineveh was the capital of the ancient Assyrian empire; the Assyrians had become cruel and depraved, and were known to persecute the Israelites. Jonah was having a hard time understanding why he should be the one to warn them of God’s wrath for their wickedness after what his people had suffered for so long. God was not going to “take out” a city of 600,000 if there was a chance of redemption. This is in the Old Testament before Christ and “turn the other cheek”…not to give Jonah any excuses cuz he was wrong to feel vengeful, but God wants us to have a “real” dialogue with him, as Jonah exhibits. The book of Nahum covers the Ninevites, too and he also wanted them to suffer.
    I am happy to see you, marlajayne!! And I am sincere when I ask for God to Bless and Keep You! :-)

  5. gypsygirl said

    another wonderful post! Its amazing to see you relate childhood events & the theological thoughts and thread them together into a wonderful piece! I loved reading this post! I intend to keep more track on your blog. :)
    good luck!

  6. Odale said

    Thank you so much for encouraging me and expressing your appreciation! I probably work too long on posts, but I want to be sure I don’t say something that will come back to haunt…;-) I look forward to hearing from you and sharing thoughts!

  7. gypsygirl said

    Wow…:) its good to hear that you work on the posts, coz many times we people tend to shell out nothing substantial in the name of posts.. And I believe hard work is still underrated. You are creative and sensitive too, but without work, I guess these things get ignored. Its nice to see you put them to good use. It inspires me to do the same! :)
    And I’ll keep tripping in and out of your blog! :) You are on my blogroll, and its a great pleasure to know we share some similarities!
    I’ll be looking forward to more wonderful stuff from you,Odale! :)

  8. Odale said

    Thank you for the inspiration, gypsygirl! It’s nice to find out I make sense! ;-) I can’t click on your name to visit you as I would like! What is your blog address?
    Am having ISP problems…hope I can send this!

  9. gypsygirl said

    I did get this..mine is still a confused lil rambling place…still trying to make sense.. the web address is: http://scrambledramblings.wordpress.com

    :) Hope to hear from ya regularly! God bless ya!

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