I'm fascinated with the story of Jonah and it has nothing to do with the fish. Don't get me wrong; I have nothing against the fish—it plays a critical role in the story. I just find it too challenging to relate to.
Jonah, on the other hand, is easy to relate to. He's more dramatic that I am, but I see himself in his story nonetheless. Jonah is a runaway and I too have my moments of running away from God.
I've never boarded a ship destined to Tarshish, but I've developed other ways of turning away from God. I'm guessing you've done this too because most of us are experienced runners. Most of us can spot a runaway without much difficulty, but it's harder to see this in ourselves. Based on Jonah's story, here are a few signs that might help you discover if you've begun to wander.
You're willing to sacrifice a lot for a questionable purpose
Jonah flees to Tarshish which is noteworthy for two reasons: it's in the opposite direction from Nineveh and it's clear across the Mediterranean Sea. Jonah's voyage would have been very long and very expensive which signals he's willing to sacrifice a lot to avoid Nineveh (the detail about Jonah paying the fare in Jonah 1:3 helps us understand this point).
The call to follow Jesus is intertwined with the call to live sacrificially. However, it's possible to sacrifice things that don't move us closer to Jesus. We must ensure that our sacrifices truly have God-honouring purposes before taking action.
When you make a costly decision, do you invite others into your decision-making process or do you have a habit of doing this on your own?
You use your feelings to justify your actions
It's not uncommon for people to experience physiological side effects when something in their life is unhealthy. But the absence of indigestion or sleepless nights shouldn't give us complete confidence that our direction is perfectly aligned with what God is asking us to do.