Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. Jonah 1:3
Anyone who knows me well has been frustrated by the reality that if I don’t want to do something, I’m probably not going to do it simply because I should. Likewise if I want to do something, even though it may be hurtful to others, I’m probably going to do it.
Unfortunately, I do this not just with people, but with God. In the spring of 2014, I had quit using tobacco for some time, when I had the desire and opportunity to pick it up again. I heard God object. Do not do this. I knew that God would forgive me though. I’ll just repent tomorrow. I can do what I want and get away with it, because you’re a forgiving God. I looked God directly in the face, told him no, and went my own way.
Two months later, I was using pills and six months later, I lost my job and went to treatment. I was profoundly mistaken in thinking that I could blatantly defy God and walk away. God didn’t even have to punish me. He just turned me over to the pursuit of myself. When I indulge in destructive behavior, it breeds more destructive behavior.
Jonah too, defied God, creating his own disaster. In the story, God told Jonah to go to Nineveh to preach his word. Jonah didn’t want to go, so he boarded a ship headed in the opposite direction. Jonah looked God directly in the face, told him no, and went his own way. Like me, Jonah paid for his defiance.
We don’t all go to treatment or get swallowed by a giant fish when we go our own way, but we all create our own misery when we defy God. We may think we can follow ourselves and get away with it, but we cannot run from God forever. Destructive behavior eventually leads to destruction.
I still fail miserably sometimes, but in my recovery, I’m learning to not follow me. I’m learning that when I hear God’s voice, I must listen. If I want to avoid relapse and the disaster of me, I’ve found that I must daily follow God, rather than my self-destructive appetites.