Ships of Tarshish

By Dave Henning / September 11, 2015

“After paying the fare, he [Jonah] went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.”- Jonah 1:3

“Sometimes it’s hard for a prophet and a profit to coexist.”- John Ortberg

Today John Ortberg discusses the second reason that holds us back from saying “yes” to God.

2.  Having other options holds us back.  Pastor Ortberg notes that it’s a big deal that Jonah paid the fare.  Normally, bartering was used in the ancient world and money was tremendously scarce.  Money gave Jonah mobility and options.  Money made it easier for Jonah to think he could run away from God, because he had options.

Options are problematic for us as well.  John recalls that when he was in seventh grade, he had the option to befriend a girl in his class that no one sat next to at lunch or chose for their team.  Although John’s social status wasn’t as low as the girl’s, he ran to Tarshish, unwilling to sacrifice what little social status he had.

In Jonah’s day, Tarshish was a city of great wealth and a pioneer in trade.  “Ships of Tarshish” became a symbol of wealth, self-sufficiency, and greed- a delusion of security.  Jonah thought he was running to safety, but it really wasn’t safe at all.  John comments:

“Maybe the only safe place is to be in the will of God for your life, even if it means choosing the door to Nineveh, that scary place you don’t want to go.”

Today’s question: When has having other options been problematic for you?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Pay attention”

About the author

Dave Henning


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