Have you ever felt as if you wanted to run away from God? Maybe you thought the responsibilities of the Christian life were too heavy for you, or you just could not be the person you were supposed to be and do the things God was asking you to do.
If you could just get away, things would be better. Or maybe the model of a Christian husband or wife was too overwhelming and you could not live up to it.
Or you knew how a Christian parent was supposed to treat his children but you seemed to fall short several times a day. Maybe you committed yourself to teach a class of children for a year but you just did not want to face them another Sunday. Or you knew God expected you to flee temptation but you could not seem to resist it, and now you feel as though God is on your back.
If you could just get away from Him for awhile, go someplace where He could not see you, then everything would be all right.
That is exactly what the prophet Jonah thought. God told him to go to the city of Nineveh and preach against its wickedness, but that was the last thing in the world Jonah wanted to do. Nineveh was the capital of a proud and powerful nation, and he was sure the people there would reject him, maybe even try to kill him for pointing out their sin.
If they did repent God would probably hold back the punishment He had predicted and Jonah would become the laughingstock of the whole city. As far as he was concerned there was no way he would ever go to Nineveh.
“But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare, and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD” (Jonah 1:3).
It is mentioned twice in that verse that Jonah wanted to get away from God’s presence. Somehow he had developed the ridiculous notion that God did not live in Tarshish.
Do you share his sentiments? Do you think there might be some place on this earth where you can hide from God?
Jonah should have known better. As a prophet in Israel he was certainly familiar with the inspired Psalms of Israel’s greatest king. David had written a powerful message about trying to run away from God’s presence: Where can I go from Thy Spirit? Or where can I flee from Thy presence? If I ascend to heaven, Thou art there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, Thou art there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Thy hand will lead me, And Thy right hand will lay hold of me. If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night,” Even the darkness is not dark to Thee, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to Thee (Psalm 139:7-12).
If God is an infinite spirit then He is not only free from the limitations of time, but He is free also from the limitations of space. He is omnipresent, that is, present everywhere all the time. No other living being has that attribute. Every other being is restricted to a particular place at a particular time. I cannot be in Ohio and Florida at the same time. Angels cannot even do that. Satan cannot do it.
But God is wholly present in every part of His domain at the same instant. He is not partly present in one place and partly present in another, but He is as fully present in every particular place as if He were in no other place. God cannot be split into little pieces. Wherever He is, He is in the fullness of His being.
While I do not fully understand it, there is no question but that God claims omnipresence for Himself in His Word. David assured us that there was absolutely no place he could go to escape the presence of God, even if he wanted to. Not even pitch‑blackness could screen him from God’s presence, because God sees in the dark as well as in the light.
Daniel confirmed that: It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, And the light dwells with Him (Daniel 2:22).
Jeremiah proclaimed the same truth to the people of his day. The land was filled with dishonesty, profanity, and immorality, and the false prophets of the day were not only condoning it but actually participating in it (Jeremiah 23:11,14). They assured the people that God would not judge them for their sin (verse 17). That is when God spoke through Jeremiah: Am I a God who is near, declares the LORD, And not a God far off? (verse 23)
I read somewhere about a little boy who believed it too: He was just a little lad, and on a fine Lord’s day, was wandering home from Sunday School and dawdling on the way. He scuffed his shoes into the grass; he found a caterpillar, he found a fluffy milkweed pod and blew out all the filler. A bird’s nest in the tree o’erhead, so wisely placed and high, was just another wonder that caught his eager eye.
A neighbor watched his zigzag course and hailed him from the lawn, asked him where he’d been that day, and what was going on. “Oh, I’ve been to Sunday school,” (he carefully turned the sod, and found a snail beneath it). “I’ve learned a lot ’bout God.” “M’m, a very fine way,” the neighbor said, “for a boy to spend his time. “If you’ll tell me where God is, I’ll give you a brand new dime.” Quick as a flash his answer came, nor were his accents faint, “I’ll give you a dollar, Mister, if you’ll tell me where God ain’t.”
And knowing this fact about God’s omnipresence is sufficient to give me the courage I need to be courageous each day I have upon this earth, “…because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
When we truly accept this fact, we can respond with courage. Conviction becomes our strength. We become bold in our words and our actions. We grow more immune to the normal despair brought on by pressure presented by peers.
Victor Frankl, the eminent German Jewish doctor, was arrested by the Gestapo during World War II. As he was being interrogated by the Nazi secret police, Frankl was stripped of all his possessions–his clothes, his jewelry, his wedding band. His head was shaved. He was repeatedly taken from his prison cell, placed under bright lights, and questioned for hours. He underwent many savage, senseless tortures. But Frankl realized he had one thing left: “I still had the power to choose my own attitude. Bitterness or forgiveness, to give up or go on.”
One of the most difficult realities of the future is the regret of the past. We must strive not to paralyze ourselves with such lingering doubts of mistakes-past that we aren’t moving forward. The following words (author unknown) depict our best-hoped aspirations:
I’d rather be the ship that sails, And rides the billows wild and free,
Than to be the ship that always fails To leave its port and go to sea.
I’d rather feel the sting of strife Where gales are born and tempests roar
Than to settle down to useless life, And rot in dry-dock on the shore.
I’d rather fight some mighty wave With honor in supreme command,
And fill at last a well-earned grave Than die in ease upon the sand.
I’d rather drive where sea storms blow, And be the ship that always failed
To make the port where it would go Than be the ship that never sailed.
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is not effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows in the end the triumphs of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat. 
 Theodore Roosevelt. Leadership, Vol. 15, no. 3.