The more I think about it the more I realise how much my beliefs and faith surf along the edge of orthodoxy, navigating the no man’s land between tradition and… something else.

This absurd form of teenage rebellion I have decided to name the “Reverse Jonah”. You see, Jonah tried to escape God’s reach by running away to the furthest place he could think of, near modern day Spain I think? As one of the Catholic capitals of the world, that’s quite ironic.

In my “Reverse Jonah”, I’m not trying to escape God’s kingdom but explore it, chart the edges and find out how far it goes. Not in physical boundaries like Jonah, but in beliefs and understanding, and practice.

As ridiculous as it may seem, both Jonah and I have come to the same conclusion. God is everywhere. And God is huge and beyond understanding and reckoning.

I believe many Christians have forgotten Jonah’s “discovery”, that you can’t escape God’s embrace but more importantly you can’t fall out of that embrace on accident either.

Perhaps that’s what rubs up against me so much when thinking about the 1600s puritans or any Christians who maintain the belief that there is only one way to practise or understand their faith.  Puritans held the belief that you had to live a, as the name suggests, “pure” life, and doing anything not within their worldview would taint you in God’s view. They lived in constant spiritual anxiety and fear of falling out of God’s embrace. Forgetting that God is everywhere and so big it is quite literally impossible to escape, and God’s love is boundless.

Perhaps many people could benefit from doing their own “Reverse Jonah”.

I’ve found in mine that I’ve misunderstood cartography in God’s Kingdom. It’s not about finding the edges, there are none, it’s about charting the rivers, the valleys, the immense beauty and the understanding that you will never finish the map.

Anna Richter

Roseville Uniting Church


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