1 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai, saying, 2 “Go at once to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before me.” 3 But Jonah set out to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid his fare and went on board, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord.
When I was a kid, I used to watch the show, Davey and Goliath , and I remember one episode where Davey tried to run away from home, and from God…he managed to get onto a boxcar and as the train moved down the tracks instead of the click-clack of wheels, he could hear the words “God is everywhere”, while his dog (Goliath) reminded him that there is no place we run to where God cannot find us! I found this episode a little creepy but also true as no matter how far we may try to run from God, or from our responsibilities, neither can be escaped…as God really is everywhere!
However, God’s omnipotent presence in the world may not always be convenient for us…as like Davey on the show, there may be times in our lives when we can feel overwhelmed and want to simply run away and have ‘do-over’ in life; when we may feel like Jonah, and get away from the presence of the Lord!!
I know that I have felt that way more than once during my time as a single parent. Surprisingly it was not when I first became a single parent…I think because I was just so busy and so overwhelmed with my new responsibilities to my daughter, and still reeling from the break-up of my marriage, and so depressed that I could not even think straight…all I could do was pray, have faith, and hold on tight as I took life one step at a time!!
It was well into my time as a single parent, when I felt worn out, and like I had no time to myself any more, when I felt like I had given up my hopes and dreams for my daughter…and all of my ambitions…when I realized that I would never be wealthy or a success at business because my daughter always had to come first!! It was in those moments when I felt like being a single parent was a handicap, and when I felt like God just did not care…as I would pray and pray and nothing seemed to improve…that I wanted to run away, give up my faith, and my life and just disappear!!
Fortunately that feeling passed, with some help from the people around me: friends, family and other parents…they let me know that I was not alone in these feelings, and reminded me that I did not give up my hopes and dreams…only changed them, for the better, as raising my daughter was the best thing that I could do with my life, and the best way for me to live my faith out loud!
After this momentary lapse into self-pity and resentment towards God, things did get better, and I became proud of the job I was doing as a single father…and then just when I was beginning to think that I “had this” my daughter became a teenager and things changed again!!
I guess that God does not want us to get too comfortable or too full of ourselves…and things went bad quickly…but this time I waded in with both feet and tried to keep her, and myself afloat…without ‘losing it’ myself. Once again I met this challenge with a lot of faith, and hope and prayer…and again I felt like God was not listening to me…and really wanted to turn away, but realized that such an action would be taken only out of spite…not out of unbelief…after all if I stopped believing in God, then I would have no grounds for being mad, as I could not be mad at something that did not exist; and I cannot imagine my life without believing in God!
I did, however, stop talking to God for a while, especially after I lost my job, and then my unemployment and had to burn through my savings, and IRA account, and was on the verge of losing my home, in the meantime, my car was ‘totaled’ and I came down the pneumonia, and then broke my wrist when I fell on the ice…all the while having to helplessly watch my daughter tumbling into ruin…and I felt powerless over it all!
I was terrified for my daughter, and for myself, and felt like God’s back was turned to me!
Yet, even though I was not talking to God for the time being, I never lost my faith, and God never left me…I can see that now, as I still had a Higher Power in my life…in the people who cared about me and my daughter! People like my girlfriend, who put up with so much from me, my pastor and my girlfriend’s pastor, both of whom helped me to keep the faith by offering their help and support. I was also helped by my family, and my friends from church and my 12-step group…and in time I began to pray again (rather than just spend my time with God just complaining) and things improved!!!
When I was literally at the end of my rope, and out of cash and felt like there was no hope, I wound up praying again…asking for God’s will to be done. The next day I got a check I did not expect, and then I got a job…though it was not what I wanted, it was a good job, and gave me hope and health insurance, which came in handy when I fell again this year, and broke my elbow and shoulder!!!
And best of all, earlier this year my daughter found her own way into recovery, and her life began to improve…as even she could not hide from God’s love…and her lack of faith has now been challenged, as she is moving from Atheist to Agnostic!!!
Life does not always live up to our expectations…and our hopes and dreams can be changed as we focus more on raising our kids, and meeting the demands of single parenting…and it is normal to sometimes get frustrated and angry with God, or even to want to run away, but the good news is that there is nowhere that we can go, where God is not!!! Even if we close ourselves off to God, we are never left alone, as God is never closed off to us!! Through Christ, God knows about weakness, frustration and anger…and shines the hope of the Resurrection into the darkest corners of our lives to give us hope and give us reasons to rejoice…as even if we are not speaking to God, God continues to speak to us through the scriptures and the people in our lives who help us to remember that no matter how rough the going is…that “this too shall pass” and in time we will be able to get off of the rocky road we are traveling, walk across the grass and cool our aching feet in the waters of God’s freely given grace!!!
Let us Pray:
God, thank you that we cannot hide from your presence…especially during those times when we really want to run away! Thank you that your grace surrounds us always, offering us comfort, support and compassion as you speak to us through the scriptures and also through the people in our lives!! Help us to stay open to your grace, and not to let our own resentments and frustrations get the better of us…and let us remember that even if we feel like we have nothing to say to you, that you never stop speaking your Word of Love to us. Even though it may sometimes feel that we are walking in the darkness of our lives as we struggle to be good parents, or to just keep our sanity when all else seems to be falling apart, let us remember that we walk in the inescapable light of Easter!