TEMPTATION TO RUN
"Some days after work, the last thing I want to
do is go home. I want to point the car in the
opposite direction and just keep driving."
THE BEGINNING PLACE
You know you're not the first person in the world to want to run away
from things-things like a hard stretch in your marriage, a job you
dread facing every morning, financial pressures, relational pressures,
professional pressures. You simply want out, and you're beginning to
feel a little desperate about it.
The trouble is, you can't shake the feeling that fleeing is a coward's
way out. If you had any emotional or spiritual backbone at all, you
wouldn't feel like cutting and running. If you were mature, you'd stay
with your hellish situation and slug it out or endure it or-like your
grandparents, perhaps-make the best of it.
Think for a minute of who in the Bible did and didn't flee difficult
circumstances. Who left town before they got themselves killed, and
who hung in there, gutting it out with no guarantee of success?
Jacob didn't face his twin brother's wrath after duping him and
his blind father, Isaac, but instead fled from it all.
Jonah didn't face an intimidating divine assignment but instead
fled from God-or at least tried to.
Jeremiah did hang in there during a desperate national and
political era-and he nearly hanged for it.
The apostle Paul seemed to have spent half his life fleeing assassination
or execution, and the other half refusing to flee, instead willingly
exposing himself to danger and trusting God for the outcome.
In this lesson, you'll explore what makes you feel like heading for
the hills and leaving it all behind, not that you feel like that every day.
But most men have spells now and then of wanting out-out of their
job, their marriage, their responsibilities. Then again, some men feel this
way most of their lives, whether or not they actually flee. How can you
deal with this temptation? Is there middle ground, where you can opt to
stay in miserable circumstances and yet glean a little joy in the process?
Use the space below to summarize your beginning place for this
lesson. Describe your realities as well as your desires about the temptation
to flee-your marriage, your family, your job, whatever. We'll
start here and then go deeper.
READ Don't Jump
1 Peter 4:12-13,19
Friends, when life gets really difficult, don't jump to the conclusion
that God isn't on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in
the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual
refining process, with glory just around the corner
So if you find life difficult because you're doing what God
said, take it in stride. Trust him. He knows what he's doing, and
he'll keep on doing it.
How do you explain hardship-the kind that begs you to run
away from home, work, or a sphere of your life that you really
care about? How directly is God's hand in it, if at all?
What guarantees are there, if any, that you'll come through this
hardship? That you'll be a better person because of it?
Have you ever been in a crisis or hardship that you've wanted
to flee and you can't see God's hand in it? Think about this.
Describe a season of hardship you went through that made
you want to flee but you ended up hanging in there. What
made you hang in there?
God, help me to see you .
READ A Convenient Escape
From The Divorce Dilemma, by Richard Goodall
In the days when divorce was not permitted, the reaction may
well have been to put up with what had "gone wrong"; now that
divorce is freely available, the reaction, first and foremost, is to
escape. This is understandable, because any animal wishes to get
out of a cage, no matter how beautiful and well furbished that
cage may have been. The tragedy inherent in the situation is that
one may leave a modern, clean and convenient type of prison
and end up in a dungeon
It may almost sound trite but, if divorce were prohibited,
people could not divorce. If people were not allowed to divorce,
they would in some way or other find a modus vivendi, they
would come to terms with each other's foibles, at least for the
sake of the children
They all claim that they thought hard and long, as the
expression goes, before taking such a serious step; that they
were saddened once they decided that their marriages should
terminate; that they were concerned for their children.
Nevertheless, the decision had to be taken. The justification put
forward always was along the lines that "it was my life that I had
to think about," "you only live once and I could not continue living
like that," and similar expressions which highlight the personal
drama, which was genuinely felt, of the individual caught
in the web of an unhappy marital relationship.
No criticism of such people is intended here. But the point
needs to be restated that none of them put the wellbeing of their
children first: in some form or other, for one reason or the other,
each of them put their happiness first.
Does it strike you as simplistic or realistic to argue that prohibiting
divorce would make for a better society?
If our society will not forbid divorce, can a couple? Or could a
community or organization-such as a church, say-forbid
divorce among couples who voluntarily submitted to the
authority of said church or organization? What might be the
benefits of such a social prohibition? Liabilities?
In your observation or firsthand experience, how often is
divorce a legally sanctioned way of fleeing a tough situation?
How often is it a way of fleeing a toxic situation? Is there a difference?
Is fleeing a tough or seemingly impossible marriage an essentially
selfish act? Think about this.
Lord, give me strength to .
READ Facing Confusion
From Dangers Men Face, by Jerry White
I was driving alone at night in Birmingham, England. I was lost.
Perhaps not really lost, since I had some idea where I was. I recognized
none of the street names. I couldn't tell if I was going
towards or away from my destination.
I started down one street. After a mile I knew it was wrong.
I went back to where I started and tried another route. I realized
I was thoroughly confused. While I was trying to remember to
drive on the left, to give way on the roundabouts, and generally
not to do something stupid, I felt stupid. I knew I was close, but
I was disoriented. After further trial and error, I finally arrived at
When I drive in a strange city, I know I will eventually figure
out the right route, but the process of wrong turns, misjudgments,
and confusing streets becomes very frustrating. I soon
forget the new sights around me and become totally absorbed
in finding my way.
Life is like that, often at the most inconvenient of times. One
of the most disconcerting feelings a man can have is confusion.
Men want to know where they are going and how to get there
without asking for directions. Uncertainty troubles us. We want
to be responsible and directed.
All men will face confusion at some point in their lives,
probably at several points in their lives. Like many other dangers
. confusion sneaks up and catches us unaware. We are traveling
comfortably down a pathway and suddenly find the way
obscured. A fog sets in and we cannot see clearly. Our thinking
processes get muddled. Our ability to make decisions seems
blocked. We are not just lost looking for the right road, we don't
even know where we want to go.
When have you experienced confusion that "sneaks up" on
you? How did that confusion affect your decision-making
ability? Were you tempted to simply not make a decision?
Why or why not?
How might uncertainty lead to a desire to abdicate responsibility?
When decisions are difficult-due to your feeling "lost" or
unsure-how can you move toward action that will resolve
your lack of direction?
When you're absorbed in trying to find your way, where can
you turn to find help? What are the risks of not seeking help
when you feel lost?
Lord, show me how to .
READ As Far Away as You Can Get
One day long ago, God's Word came to Jonah, Amittai's son: "Up
on your feet and on your way to the big city of Nineveh! Preach
to them. They're in a bad way and I can't ignore it any longer."
But Jonah got up and went the other direction to Tarshish,
running away from God. He went down to the port of Joppa
and found a ship headed for Tarshish. He paid the fare and went
on board, joining those going to Tarshish-as far away from
God as he could get.
But God sent a huge storm at sea, the waves towering.
What do you remember about the first time you heard or read
Jonah's story? What was your initial reaction to Jonah's decision
to run away?
Jonah's feelings triggered "a huge storm." What kind of storm
did your situation cause?
Have you reconciled God's difficult request with your disinclination
to do it? Why or why not?
What today is tempting you to "get out while you still can,"
though you know deep down you should stay and see it
through to the end?
Lord, give me wisdom to .
READ Go Back the Way You Came
1 Kings 19:1-15
[King] Ahab reported to [his queen] Jezebel everything that Elijah
had done, including the massacre of the prophets. Jezebel immediately
sent a messenger to Elijah with her threat: "The gods will
get you for this and I'll get even with you! By this time tomorrow
you'll be as dead as any one of those prophets."
When Elijah saw how things were, he ran for dear life to
Beersheba, far in the south of Judah. He left his young servant
there and then went on into the desert another day's journey. He
came to a lone broom bush and collapsed in its shade, wanting
in the worst way to be done with it all-to just die: "Enough of
this, God! Take my life-I'm ready to join my ancestors in the
grave!" Exhausted, he fell asleep under the lone broom bush.
Suddenly an angel shook him awake and said, "Get up and
He looked around and, to his surprise, right by his head
were a loaf of bread baked on some coals and a jug of water.
He ate the meal and went back to sleep.
The angel of God came back, shook him awake again, and
said, "Get up and eat some more-you've got a long journey
ahead of you."
He got up, ate and drank his fill, and set out. Nourished by
that meal, he walked forty days and nights, all the way to the
mountain of God, to Horeb. When he got there, he crawled into
a cave and went to sleep.
Then the word of God came to him: "So Elijah, what are you
"I've been working my heart out for the God-of-the-Angel-Armies,"
said Elijah. "The people of Israel have abandoned your
covenant, destroyed the places of worship, and murdered your
prophets. I'm the only one left, and now they're trying to kill me."
Then he was told, "Go, stand on the mountain at attention
before God. God will pass by."
A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered
the rocks before God, but God wasn't to be found in the
wind; after the wind an earthquake, but God wasn't in the earthquake;
and after the earthquake fire, but God wasn't in the fire;
and after the fire a gentle and quiet whisper.
When Elijah heard the quiet voice, he muffled his face with
his great cloak, went to the mouth of the cave, and stood there.
A quiet voice asked, "So Elijah, now tell me, what are you doing
here?" Elijah said it again, "I've been working my heart out for
God, the God-of-the-Angel-Armies, because the people of Israel
have abandoned your covenant, destroyed your places of worship,
and murdered your prophets. I'm the only one left, and
now they're trying to kill me."
God said, "Go back the way you came through the desert to
In what ways do you feel like Elijah?
What was God's response to Elijah's fleeing for his life? What
was God trying to tell the prophet with the wind, earthquake,
fire, and whisper?
What "voice" of God have you traditionally been most receptive
to when you're tempted to flee or have fled? Does something
in you have to be shattered, shaken to the ground, or
burned up before God has your attention?
How do you feel about God making sure Elijah got enough
food and rest during all his fleeing?
What was God's last word to Elijah? Was this a word for just
Elijah's specific situation, or might there be a word here for
Father, help me to hear your voice .
READ Hanging In There
Job 1:8-12,20-22; 2:7-10; 3:1-3,11,23; 40:1-5
God said to Satan, "Have you noticed my friend Job? There's no
one quite like him-honest and true to his word, totally devoted
to God and hating evil."
Satan retorted, "So do you think Job does all that out of the
sheer goodness of his heart? Why, no one ever had it so good!
You pamper him like a pet, make sure nothing bad ever happens
to him or his family or his possessions, bless everything he
does-he can't lose!
"But what do you think would happen if you reached down
and took away everything that is his? He'd curse you right to
your face, that's what."
God replied, "We'll see. Go ahead-do what you want with
all that is his. Just don't hurt him." .
[After the loss of his possessions and the deaths of his children,]
Job got to his feet, ripped his robe, shaved his head, then
fell to the ground and worshiped:
Naked I came from my mother's womb,
naked I'll return to the womb of the earth.
God gives, God takes.
God's name be ever blessed.
Not once through all this did Job sin; not once did he blame
Job was ulcers and scabs from head to foot. They itched
and oozed so badly that he took a piece of broken pottery to
scrape himself, then went and sat on a trash heap, among the
His wife said, "Still holding on to your precious integrity, are
you? Curse God and be done with it!"
He told her, "You're talking like an empty-headed fool. We
take the good days from God-why not also the bad days?"
Not once through all this did Job sin. He said nothing
Then Job broke the silence. He spoke up and cursed his fate:
"Obliterate the day I was born.
Blank out the night I was conceived! .
Why didn't I die at birth,
my first breath out of the womb my last? .