By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.
Have you ever desired something so strongly that you spent hours and hours in prayer over it, even though you knew in your heart that it was not God's will for you? What happened when that desire remained unfulfilled? Did you accept it as part of God's plan -- or did you turn your back on God in anger and frustration?
Running away from God will get us nowhere. No matter how far we try to run from God, He is always present.
God's will for our lives is far better than any plan we can conceive. Jonah, however, chose to follow a different plan: "Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord" (Jonah 1:3).
Instead of being filled with gratitude that God was calling him to do great things, Jonah boarded a ship that was going the opposite direction. God had called Jonah to Nineveh, a city in modern-day Iraq, yet Jonah was headed for Tarshish, located on the coast of Spain. Emotionally, spiritually, and even geographically, Jonah was running as far as he could in the opposite direction of God's will for his life.
Tarshish symbolizes that place in our lives where we've settled for what we want, instead of what God wants. Tarshish is the nice comfort zone in which we hide. It's safe, it's easy, and it's appealing. But sometimes the places where we can be of most help -- and make the most difference -- are the places where we are shaken and challenged.
Prayer: Father, what Tarshish are you calling me out of today? Forgive me for the times when I've run to my Tarshish to hide. Help me to trust that Your plans are best for me and to respond in obedience. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there" (Psalm 139:7-8).