Jonah Running To God

Jonah 2

Introduction:  We called the first sermon “Running from God”    

                                            Let’s call this one “Running to God.”  

But …. How come the way back is always so long? 

For example: the way back from Alcoholism?  

      Why so long to come back from Financial Irresponsibility?  

                  In the few cases where there isn’t a divorce, 

                  why is it such a long road back from Marital Infidelity? 


Do you know that the same goes for ministerial unfaithfulness?

Illustration: Famous Christian writer of the 1980s.  Fell into sin 

              with his secretary.  A pastoral friend asked him what went  

                  wrong. I quote his reply: “I kept running the red lights.” 

In other words – he knew what was God’s will but he kept trying 

                                                   to get away with disobeying God. 


The question today is this:  

           How come the way back is always so long?  

                  For that matter what are the first steps on the way back?  


Here is the first one out of the book of Jonah: 

PRAY – pray right where you are.  

1 From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. 


And what should one pray?...

A. Recognize your Frustrated Vocation.

1. Recognize that God is still there. 

Your first prayer should be a change of direction.  

Last week’s sermon was about running FROM God  

          today we speak of Running TOWARDS God. 


Sometimes God has to let you sink pretty low 

                    before He has your full attention.  

Josiah Stamp wrote: “It’s easy to dodge our responsibilities but we 

    cannot dodge the consequences of dodging our responsibilities.” 


Pardon the PUN but there’s not much else to turn to when you find 

yourself inside a great fish! That was Jonah – but what about some 

folks you know – or you yourself. They / or you – might have sunk 

down to a similarly helpless place because of your disobedience. 


A wise old saying goes: “Our extremity is God’s opportunity.” 

The sailors threw Jonah overboard and in a flash a huge fish 

gobbled him up. I put it to you – for Jonah this was the end of the 

                                                     line. I said it would be good to 

                                          pray when things go bad.  Jonah prayed - 

2 He said: “In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered 

                   me. From deep in the realm of the dead I 

                   called for help, and you listened to my cry. 


Now he wasn’t writing these words as it happened.  Not many 

people would be jotting down notes right after being swallowed by 

a huge fish.  

This is Jonah looking back on what happened.  He knew it was all 

over for him.  He speaks of praying from the realm of the dead.


2. Recognize that God is still there when you have frustrated 

    what God has called you to do with your life – 

               Recognize His presence and 

                         recognize what God did when you prayed: 


3 You hurled me into the depths, 

        into the very heart of the seas, 

             and the currents swirled about me; 

                          all your waves and breakers swept over me. 


“You hurled me?  Really – Jonah – 

  wasn’t it the sailors who did that?  

Often God takes part in the bad consequences of our disobedience 

and He does it to reach us. Is there someone where this sermonis 

reaching who has frustrated the vocation God had in mind for 

them?  Recognize what God did – 

           face up to the bad in your past and then pray what else?


B. Reach out your Faith’s voice

1. When you get around to running back to God you need a faith 

    that is three things: realistic, rational and reliable.

a. A faith that is Realistic. Admit your lost state. 

   Yet also believe for reinstatement:


4 I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight; 

   yet I will look again toward your holy temple.’


2. a. A faith that is Realistic.  b. A Faith that is Rational: 

   (Its no use denying the consequences that 

    disobeying God brings)  Don’t try and pretend that all is well – 

    that’s not a rational faith. Pray this: 

5 The engulfing waters threatened me, 

    the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. 


I love that last part: seaweed was wrapped around my head. 

How’s that for rationally accepting consequences? 

Have you got seaweed on your head? 

This type of rational prayer isn’t “Faith in Faith” 

       This isn’t a self-improvement exercise. 

              This is a faith that knows your only hope is for God to act.


3. a. A faith that is Realistic.  b. A Faith that is Rational and 

    c. A faith that’s Reliable. Start with the little you know.                              

                            Just work on what you know is happening to you. 

6 To the roots of the mountains I sank down; 

   the earth beneath barred me in forever. (F.alse E.vidence A.ppearing R.eal)

   But you, Lord my God, brought my life up from the pit

I mentioned that Jonah was looking back on his terrible ordeal. 

(“The Pit” was a way of talking about the grave. – did Jonah die 

inside that great fish?  - Even if he did – God can raise the dead) 


If you are feeling like you are spiritually dead inside – God raises 

dead people to new life.  That’s what we mean by “born again.”


C. Renew your First vows

1. Now we are coming to the action part of Running Back to God.  

    This is the vital step on the long road back. 

    You have to get rid of your idols. (No not little carved figures) 


Get your love relationship with God back to where it should be.  

I think in the last moments of Jonah’s life he cried out to God.

7 “When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, 

    and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. 

Oh soul seeking to run back to God – 

Idols took you a long way from feeling the love God has for you.  


Jonah added: 8 “Those who cling to worthless idols 

                           turn away from God’s love for them.

                          God’s grace is yours – you can come home to him. 


2. You need the words of this song from 

     a Salvation Army musical: 

Vs 1 Don't assume that God's dismissed you from his mind, 

        Don't assume that God's forgotten to be kind; 

        For no matter what you do, his love still follows you; 

        Don't think that you have left him far behind.

Chorus For his love remains the same, He knows you by your name, 

Don't think because you failed him he despairs; 

For he gives to those who ask His grace for every task, 

God plans for you in love for he still cares.

Vs 2. Don't assume that God will plan for you no more, 

         Don't assume that there's no future to explore; 

         For your life he'll re-design, the pattern be divine; 

         Don't think that your repentance he'll ignore.

Vs 3.Don't assume you cannot give what he'll demand, 

        Don't assume that God condemns you out of hand; 

        For he gives to those who ask his grace for every task; 

        Don't think that God will fail to understand

Chorus For his love remains the same, 

            He knows you by your name, 

            Don't think because you failed him he despairs; 

            For he gives to those who ask His grace for every task, 

           God plans for you in love for he still cares


3. Last part of vow renewing: 

   Get back to the habit of thanksgiving. 

   See that right here in Jonah: 9 But I, with shouts of grateful 

                                                   praise, I will sacrifice to you. 

                                                What I have vowed I will make good. 

                                                 I will say, Salvation 

                                                 comes from the Lord. 

Yes Jonah say that – it comes from no other: 

Salvation comes from the Lord. 

It is part of the way back to God.  You come humbly to the place 

of seeing that God is your only hope of getting your life right 

again. Accept anew His salvation.  And then give thanks that God 

                                                  is the God of many second chances. 


Conclusion: Todays sermon proclaims that 

                      there IS a WAY BACK to God. 


10 And the Lord commanded the fish, 

    and it vomited Jonah onto dry land. 


Picture a moment what this man looked like 

after three days inside a fish’s belly.  

  Was his clothes tattered and torn?  

         Did he bear skin bleached by gastric juices?        Matted hair?  

                             Maybe raised from the dead with sunken cheeks? 


There is a way back but it will not be cheap. 

Ken Levine observed: “We all make choices, 

                                      but in the end our choices make us.” 


There are at times life-long consequences of running from God 

– but there is still the way back. 

Take those steps back at once 

Pray with a faith that is Realistic, 

                a faith that is Rational     and 

                a faith that is Reliable. 

Banish your idols and 

             accept God’s salvation offer – 

                             start a life of thanksgiving. 

As Nike shoe company says “Do it now”