When You Run Away

Luisa Collopy

Contributing Writer
Updated Jul 08, 2024
When You Run Away

We have become far too lax with God, like we are equals, that we think we have the right to tell Him what He should and should not do.

I ran away from home when I was a little girl. My mom told me that I was five years old when I packed my clothes, dragged my little stowaway bag, and walked a couple of doors down the street to my godmother’s home. I had become a middle child, and I thought it was a nice idea to be the only child in my godmother’s home since they didn’t have any.

When I was about 10, I decided to run away again. I was thinking of the scolding I would get because I didn’t do as I was asked to. So, I packed an overnight bag and headed to our little playhouse in the garden when everyone was busy at home. I returned home in time for dinner.

Do you find yourself wanting to run away? Maybe you did. When you are reminded of these not-so-fine moments in your life, it’s hard to even imagine and process why you acted and reacted the way you did. A poor strategy.

The Prophet Elijah

Elijah faced King Ahab, the people of Israel, and the prophets of Baal. He said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him” (1 Kings 18:21). He was reminding the Israelites of their ambivalence—worship of the One True God and the worship of false gods. To prove once more who the true God was, he called on the name of the Lord to rain down fire on the altar that was filled with water. “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back” (vv.36-37). And the Lord answered with fire and consumed everything, drying up the water as well. 

Elijah had the 450 prophets of Baal captured, “brought them to the brook Kishon and slaughtered them” all (v.40). It was a day of victory “and the hand of the Lord was on Elijah” (v.46).

But Ahab told his wife Jezebel of the death of the prophets, her besties. In her fury over the matter, she sent a message to Elijah: “So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow” (19:2). Elijah’s response to this threat made him forget the victory God brought to him. Fearing for his life, he ran away into the wilderness. What happened to his great faith and God’s deliverance that Elijah suddenly didn’t have the confidence in God’s protection?

The Prophet Jonah

Here’s another man of God who did exactly the opposite of what he was asked to do—to “go to Nineveh…and call out against it, for their evil…” (Jonah 1:2). Jonah fled and boarded a ship bound for Tarshish instead—as if he could run away from the presence of the Lord!

After a tempest almost broke the ship, being thrown into the sea to save the lives of the other passengers and spending time in the belly of the fish, Jonah finally did what God told him to do. When the people of Nineveh heard God’s message of destruction for their sin, they “believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them” (3:5). Even the king did the same and ordered both man and beast, herd and flock not to eat or drink. “Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish” (vv.8-9).  

But why freak out over God’s instruction in the first place? Jonah showed his true colors when God didn’t punish the people of Nineveh. Jonah had the audacity to pray this: “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster” (4:1-2). Jonah wanted the people to suffer God’s wrath, not to repent of their sins. 

The Prophets’ Dramatic Response

Believe it or not, both Elijah and Jonah had the same response to their not-so-fine moments—death. As Elijah sat under a broom tree in the wilderness, he said, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers” (1 Kings 19:4). Jonah said the same: “Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live” (Jonah 4:3). What is wrong in both pictures?

Here we have Elijah wanting to die because of fear. Perhaps in the great battle, he got physically consumed and it affected his mental health. He didn’t have the energy to face another battle, this time with Jezebel. Let’s assume that he did prefer to die in the hands of God than Jezebel.

Then there was Jonah getting angry over the people of Nineveh repenting. He knew he was right about God relenting punishment if the people turned from their sins. A national repentance happened, and it was too much for Jonah to take. Perhaps, he wanted to see them suffer God’s wrath. He might have been waiting for fire to come down from heaven and zap everyone into oblivion.

Reasons We Like to Run Away

There have been countless times we have taken matters into our own hands and run away from problems and people. It’s the natural flight response when we face danger or resist something we dislike. But we forget that problems and people don’t just go away. They still exist and we still must face the consequences! We are only delaying the difficulty and creating more problems for ourselves, especially physical issues like exhaustion and depression, and negative feelings like anger.

From a spiritual standpoint, it’s clear that we do a lot of running away from God. In doing so, we experience failures we could easily avoid if we just did exactly what God asked us to when we were supposed to. But in our ever-prideful state, we only want the outcome we envision, putting our stamp of approval. 

However, consider that if we continue questioning God’s authority, refusing His call, He might find someone else to do the job. We have become far too lax with God, like we are equals, that we think we have the right to tell Him what He should and should not do. And we like to dictate the outcome, getting annoyed and considering God unfair for not meeting the justice that we think others deserve. We forget that we were once spared from His wrath when we sought His forgiveness and repented of our own sins.

The words in Isaiah 55 sum up the heart and mind of God. Isaiah said, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon” (55:7). God’s compassion for repentant people is what moves Him to deliver people—counting us as well—from sin and His punishment. 

We like to put God in our little box, like the tit-for-tat, you-scratch-my-back-I’ll-scratch-yours coercions we force upon people. Do you see how we try to control God’s behavior or approach to an issue instead of taking ahold of our own behavior and response? We think that having a relationship with God is enough for us to know Him full well. We don’t! “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts,” Isaiah said (vv.8-9). 

Enough of the drama! Instead of running away from circumstances, from responsibilities, and from God, let’s be confident that He will see us through…in our obedience to Him.

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/BrianAJackson

Luisa Collopy is an author, speaker and a women’s Bible study teacher. She also produces Mula sa Puso (From the Heart) in Tagalog (her heart language), released on FEBC Philippines stations. Luisa loves spending time with her family over meals and karaoke!