By Lawrence Shiroma, Major
When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you; your troubles will not overwhelm you (Is. 43:2 GNT).
Ships often play a part in Scripture stories. In the Old Testament we read how the prophet Jonah used a ship to run away from God. The word of the Lord came to Jonah…but Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord (Jonah 1:1,3). Some Bible commentators read Tarsus as ancient Spain; others believe Jonah’s fleeing to Tarshish meant fleeing to a “place very far away” rather than to a specific geographic location.
Have you ever felt like fleeing to Tarshish? A place far away, where you can just get away from the problems of life? Sometimes after a long day at the office, I like to unwind by riding my bicycle home and letting my tired mind wander to a place that Israel (IZ) Kamakawewo’ole sang about, “where trouble melts like lemon drops, high above the chimney tops, that’s where you’ll find me, somewhere over the rainbow.”
Jonah went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish (Jonah 1:3b). When we are running away from the Lord, we can always find a ship bound for Tarshish to carry us away from his presence. Earlier in my life, with nothing but a suitcase, typewriter and guitar in hand, I headed off to San Francisco—my “Tarshish.” But it was there that I heard a song on the radio called “The Lighthouse,” which drew me not further away, but closer to Christ and eventually back to The Salvation Army.
Ronnie Hinson’s lyrics say: “There’s a lighthouse on the hillside that overlooks life’s sea. When I’m tossed it sends out a light, ‘tis a light that I might see. And the light that shines in darkness now will safely lead us o’er. If it wasn’t for the lighthouse, my ship would be no more.
“And I thank God for the lighthouse, I owe my life to him. For Jesus is the lighthouse and from the rocks of sin, he has shone a light around me that I could clearly see. If it wasn’t for the lighthouse, tell me where would this ship be.”
Is Jesus your lighthouse, shining his light so that you can clearly see the rocks of sin around you? Sometimes God has to fire off a warning shot across our bow to get our attention. In Jonah 1:4 we read that God used a force of nature, a tempestuous Mediterranean sea storm called the Euroclydon—another name for a cyclone—to get Jonah’s attention. How does God get your attention?
Another song about ships that the men at the old Seattle Harbor Light Center enjoyed singing is called “The Haven of Rest” by George D. Moore:
“My soul in sad exile was out on life’s sea, so burdened with sin and distressed, till I heard a sweet voice, saying, ‘Make me your choice’; and I entered the ‘Haven of Rest’! I’ve anchored my soul in the Haven of Rest, I’ll sail the wide seas no more; the tempest may sweep over the wild, stormy deep, but in Jesus I’m safe evermore.”
When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you. Your troubles will not overwhelm you (Is. 43:2).
You may feel as though your ship is breaking up, but as God still has a hand on your life may you cast all your cares upon him, for he cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).