Jonah's call to witness to the Ninevites was no easy task. These were not peaceful, easygoing pagans. This large city was the capital of the ancient Assyrian empire, a people known for their violence and cruelty. Jonah quickly forgot about the sovereignty and providence of God and caved in to his own panic and fears, so he fled as far away from God as he could in the opposite direction of God's call, securing passage to Tarshish. Nineveh was in modern-day Iraq; Tarshish was in modern-day Spain.
But Jonah's problem was not geographical; it was spiritual. Tarshish was the place of Jonah's choosing, not God's choosing. For us, it represents the place where we think we can minister and serve—where we want to be. It's the place where we say, "God, one place is as good as another. This is where the action is—where I want to serve, God," as though we know better than the all-knowing, all-wise, sovereign King.
Jonah's problem was not geographical; it was spiritual.
Tarshish is that place in your life where you settle for what you want, where it's comfortable, cozy, and warm. It's a place where you've not been challenged. It's a place where you are not risking anything for God. Tarshish looks easy, attractive, and inviting. And so Jonah fled from God's call on his life—it was no accident; it was calculated. Jonah found a ship; he looked for and orchestrated Plan B. But with God there is no Plan B—there is only Plan A. We must not run from the will of God and rationalize our change of course when we're called to trust God, enter the fray, and serve in a difficult situation.
An easy life is not God's promise to us. He promises an abundant life; He promises us His very presence. I often hear people say, "God wants me to be happy." But Christian, God wants you to be holy.
Has God given you a vision that you don't like or that you are running from right now? Are you on your way to Nineveh—or have you boarded the ship for Tarshish?Remember: "For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord . . . join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God" (2 Timothy 1:7-8).
Prayer: Lord, thank You for Your vision for my life. Grant me a spirit of obedience. Protect me from ignoring Your voice out of fear, embarrassment, or even disdain. Grant me a willing spirit to fully submit to Your vision for my life. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light" (1 Peter 2:9).
Learn more in Dr. Michael Youssef's sermon series Biblical Compassion: LISTEN NOW