Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence (Psalm 139:7, esv)?
To hear us justify it in our own heads, it sounds like all we’re doing is innocently trying to free ourselves from someone’s overbearing control or from a hassle we don’t need. That’s why we’re leaving this church, or quitting this job, or not listening to our parents anymore. It’s why we’re deliberately avoiding those people who think they know everything. We’re not answering their calls or giving them another shot at us just so they can tell us how we’re so wrong. Right?
“No place exists outside the presence of the Lord.”
But often what we’re really doing, in running from all these things, is running from the presence of God.
And running from God has never been a good idea.
When the prophet Jonah didn’t like the sound of what God was instructing him to do—to go and preach to the Ninevites—the Bible says he “rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.” Then after finding a ship that was heading that direction—to the far reaches of the known world—“he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord” (Jonah 1:3). Two times the verse says it: “Away from the presence of the Lord.”
No doubt Jonah had heard King David’s psalm read in public worship services. “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, 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” (Psalm 139:7–10). But when a person is intent on rebelling, their thinking can get all messed up. I mean, how messed up is it to think we can run away from God? Who in their right mind would ever feel like they could do that?
And yet sometimes we do.
Maybe a relationship that you’ve allowed to develop into something more serious is unrighteous and you know it, but you think you can somehow hold on to it outside of God’s presence.
Maybe a lifestyle choice you’re making isn’t right, and you feel convicted about it, but you pretend you can maintain it in some little pocket of the world where God won’t see.
Whenever you begin to harden your heart against the truth, you start believing you can do things you absolutely cannot do. You can grow deceived enough in your own twisted logic that you actually become convinced you can hide from God.
But no place exists outside the presence of the Lord. Nowhere. And today’s a good day to be reminded of this simple truth, if it’s become less than obvious:
And start realizing that the presence of the Lord is not something to escape but to embrace.
Father, Your omnipresence is a blessing, a sign not only of Your infinite power but also of Your all-encompassing love for me. Thank You for never abandoning me, for surrounding me in Your comfort and care, so much that I can never be separated from You. Keep this truth ever before me. And here, with Your hand on me, touch that place where I’ve been resisting and wanting to run from You. Help me to finally relinquish it to You, so my faith in You can flourish. Help me kneel and truly submit to You, embracing Your will for my life with my whole heart. In Jesus’ name, amen.