Swallowed Up

But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. . .
(Jonah 1:3).

"There is a way that seems right to a man," the Proverb writer explains, "but the end thereof is destruction." It seems to be something we learn from birth and begin to do as soon as we can exercise any real amount of free will. It is something that attracts, distracts or perhaps even obsesses us throughout the most of our lives. It is this insatiable desire to follow our own course, to go our own way, to be our own god. And it is something that when its final destination is reached, the path thought to lead to fortune, in truth was a road of ruin.
Certainly we have already heard so much about the root of all evil and the love of money and the snares of wealth, fame and power. We can probably pick out a time or place when someone who was trying to give us some good moral guidance warned us about the troubles to come by yielding to the desires of this life. And we think that, "Surely those words came from the mouths of extremists and rigid Christians who have forgotten how to have fun." Perhaps not. But perhaps we think that because we are each different, each of us have different degrees to which we can handle the possible temptations of this world. Perhaps. For we are sure to reason that while someone else will have a hard time keeping from getting wrapped up in materialistic pursuits, we ourselves are unlikely to--right? Perhaps.
But perhaps not. Perhaps we have misjudged the size of the situation, and in that case are unaware that while we may think we have a handle on things, it is those things that are getting a tighter grip on us. But we are hard to convince that danger exists, and slower to see it when we determinedly walk into it, so sure that we are smart enough or strong enough to handle whatever comes.
It is the selfish pursuit of "my rights," "my wants," and "my needs" that will swallow us up. Jonah ran from God, thinking he had a better way, or at least a way that he himself preferred. But his self-concern gave birth to turmoil and the path of his choice swallowed him up. What Jonah thought he would control became something much larger than himself. It engulfed him and held him inside of it, and there was nothing he could do about it. And so he turned back to the One he had ran from, and as he pulled his thoughts off from his wants and put his eyes on God, he soon saw the light of day once more.
As we grow from child to adult, and pass through the valley of the shadow of teenager, somewhere along the way we develop a sense of personal power and control that we begin to exert over our own way. But and if we come to the place that we think we have become the masters of our destiny, it is our destiny that will master us. If we follow God's way we will certainly find the shores of glory, but if we hold to our life, liberty and pursuit of "what makes me happy," we will certainly be swallowed up.
The pursuit of happiness is a beaten path that leads to the mouth of a whale of trouble.

Day by Day Devotionals: www.daybyday.org