“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
You Are Jonah!, by Randall D. Kittle

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I just feel like you’re running away from something,” my wife said as I was going out the door on my way to a conference. I tried to remain calm on the outside, but the probing tone of her voice made me feel as if a chilly breeze of exposure and vulnerability had just swept over me. My wife hadn’t just hit the target … she hit the bulls-eye. In my prayer-time earlier that morning the Lord had spoken to me clearly and declared “You are Jonah!” With all my defenses up, I had asked inquisitively “Lord, what do you mean?” In His response I sensed that He saw right through my “innocent” act. “Read the book!” was His only reply.

When the Prophet Jonah heard the divine call,
“Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it,” he shut his ears to the command, hardened his heart to all inner voices, turned his back on the field of duty, and fled. The work the Lord gave Jonah to do was no small task. God, Himself, had said that the city was “great,” and that “their wickedness has come up before Me.” The Almighty would not call Jonah under false pretenses nor deceive him in any way. The Lord was faithful to Jonah in the commissioning of this task, and revealed to him both the greatness and gravity of the work. Jonah was so focused on one man, himself, that he cared little about the hundreds of thousands God had called him to speak to. “He rose up to flee from the presence of the Lord.”

Poor Jonah … he tried to run from God and duty. He had unconsciously undertaken the longest race known in the universe. The fact is, this race has no end. When Jonah rose up to flee from the presence of the Lord, he started to do an impossible thing. It appears that Jonah hadn’t yet learned what David knew so well: there is no hiding place from God. “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall fall on me,’ even the night shall be light about me; Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, but the night shines as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to You” (Psalms 139:7–12).

As I read the book of Jonah, I started to see
my life unfold before my eyes. I began to realize that, like Jonah the running prophet of old, I was running from what God had called me to. I was fleeing from the prophetic ministry to which God had called me. It wasn’t because I was wounded or rejected; it was because of the fear of man…one man…myself. Being one who has great confidence in God, I had found it easy to move in the prophetic and to prophesy in proportion to my faith. Unfortunately, my faith had not always been in the same measure as the love of God in my life. But recently, the Lord had given me a season of brokenness, and through this He had been able to remake my heart and pour in His love in a new and increased measure. As the love of God continued to capture expanding territories in my heart, I began to realize the numerous times I had loved to speak the truth far more than speak the truth in love. Looking through my new eyes of love, I could see those who had been needlessly hurt and unnecessarily wounded as I had boldly moved out in my gifting.

Feeling that my “gift” was more of a curse for both others and myself, I determined to no longer speak in the name of the Lord, and I decided to read the Bible much less (since it was often while reading the Bible that He spoke to me and gave me visions). Though I determined not to share what the Lord might give me, He continued to reveal His heart and give me His words. They would reside in my heart and burn within me with a passionate life of their own. Each time God gave me a revelation, I would wrestle with Him until, eventually, He would win and I would share it. I felt like the Prophet Jeremiah who said,
“But if I say, ‘I will not mention Him or speak any more in His name,’ His word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot” (Jeremiah 20:9). Despite my best efforts to avoid reading the Bible, my love for the Word of God kept drawing me back. It was not duty, guilt, or obligation; I hungered for time with my God and His precious Word. Like David my heart cried out, “Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day” (Psalms 119:97).

Good Gifts
As Jonah had discovered, trying to run away from your calling is like trying to run away from your shadow—you can try very hard, but you won’t get far! You can walk away from your calling, but it will follow you! If you stop pursuing fulfilling your calling, it will still keep pursuing you! For even “if we are faithless, He remains faithful” (2 Timothy 2:13). Somehow, I felt that if I just neglected the gift God had given me it would just go away. No matter how I tried to “hide out” from the call God has upon my life, it was always there … waiting for me. It is so hard to run from your calling because God doesn’t rescind it. The call is either completed or remains a “call waiting.” “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Romans 11:29).

One of the reasons I couldn’t run away from my gift is because it isn’t
my gift. Whose gift is it? The gifts of the Spirit belong to the Spirit, not to those in whom they reside. When the Apostle Paul encourages Timothy to stir up “his” gift, he says “stir up the gift of God which is in you”(2 Timothy 1:6).

I had been feeling like the gift God gave me was more of a curse than a blessing. But what is the true nature of the gifts? The Word of God tells us the gifts are
good! “Every good gift and perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17). The gifts God gives to believers are good. It doesn’t matter what fruit we have produced with them. Since they are God’s gift they only can be good.

Jesus told us that our heavenly Father only gives good gifts to His children.
“Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:9–11).

When I was eight years old, I got the greatest present a little boy could get for his birthday … a BB gun. Now before I could even open the box, my father carefully instructed me on the responsibility of handling this gun (I must have heard at least twenty times that morning, “It isn’t a toy”). Yet, a few weeks later a neighbor’s window was broken by my BB gun. (It was actually my best friend who had done the errant shooting). But the BB gun wasn’t bad, just the way my friend used it (and my wisdom for letting him use it). It wasn’t that my parents had given me a bad gift, only that I had used it improperly.

Are You Jonah?
I am not alone in having run from God’s call and following in Jonah’s footsteps. There has been many a foolish person since that day to imitate his example. The company of fleeing Jonahs is much larger than some would imagine. Many now in the business world have been called by God to the ministry. Many a gift has been put back on the shelf. Many a young prophet has run from the battle, instead of running to the battle.

Examine your own heart. Are you doing what God wants you to do? Are you obedient to the Lord in regard to your ministry to your family, church, or some special duty He has laid on your heart? Or, are you forgetting it; turning from it; yes, running from it?! If so, the fleeing Jonah is not only alive and well, but reading this today.

Jonah deliberately disobeyed God in reference to the call to Nineveh. In perfect justice God could have relegated him to the rear, while another man was put in his place. While men have the habit of giving up their brother in disappointment and displeasure on the first failure, God has a way of trying people over again.

The Lord held on to Mark after he had weakened on his first missionary tour and departed. Paul seems to have lost all confidence in him, but the Savior tried him again. Paul himself writes later,
“Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry” (2 Timothy 4:11).

Re-taught and Re-signed
The Lord who said He would not break the bruised reed nor quench the smoking flax held on to the unhappy, frightened, demoralized Jonah; and, after proper discipline, commanded the whale to cast the prophet upon the shore. There our patient, merciful God met him with the same old commission: “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message I tell you.” If you don’t pass the test the first time don’t worry, God will “let” you take it over again!

At the first command Jonah
“rose up to flee,” but when he heard the Lord bidding him a second time the Bible says, he “arose and went to Nineveh.”

God sees deeper than we do, and beholds good where we do not. He lays His plans and shapes His providence to bring forth that good — to not only recover the one who flees, but to develop them in the process.

In some churches Jonah would have been subjected to a church inquiry and been sent packing. The Lord simply sent him for a little time at one of His “universities,” re-taught him some forgotten truths, instructed him in some other lessons; and then reissued his license, reread his old appointment, and, behold! Jonah went forth, not only to do the great work of his life, but to sweep ahead of anything that has ever been accomplished by any preacher or evangelist, from that time to the present hour.

Perhaps you have made mistakes or errors that have hurt others as well as yourself. Like Jonah you took a ship to Tarsus instead of going to Nineveh. Allow me to share with you that the Lord does not see you through your failings, neither does He see you merely according to your callings —
God sees you in the light of already fulfilling your callings!

When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon he proclaimed,
“The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!” (Judges 6:12). When this was spoken to Gideon he was cowering in a winepress; hiding out while grinding his wheat. You can almost hear his knees knocking together as he looks over his shoulder and responded, “Oh no! there’s a mighty man of valor in here!” As he looked about he didn’t see any brave warrior … but there was one. God had put His call on Gideon’s life and his destiny was already planted within. God saw Gideon as he was going to be. When Gideon led the undersized army against the Midianites with torches and trumpets as their weapons, was he not as God had seen him — a mighty man of valor? Remember, man looks at you through your history, but God looks at you through your destiny!”

Nothing is more plainly taught in the Word than that God will grant a second chance to one who is honest and in earnest and wants to do the right thing. When I ran from Him, He kept running after me until I surrendered and came back to Him!

What the sandy shore of the wilderness was to Jonah, so the present moment may be to you if you have faltered and failed in the past. God is not calling you to
resign your commission, but to have it re-signed by Him. If you will kneel down at once and say, “Lord Jesus, try me once more” — you will be received and tried again.


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