Jonah 3:1-3, CEV
“Once again, the Lord told Jonah to go to that great city of Nineveh and preach his message of doom. Jonah obeyed the Lord and went to Nineveh.”
God had called upon Jonah to go and preach to the people of Nineveh. Yet in direct disobedience to God’s command, Jonah set off to Tarshish, 2,000 miles in the opposite direction. Jonah was running – as far away as he could possibly get!
God intercepted Jonah’s flight by sending a massive storm into the path of the ship. The wind was so severe that it threatened to break the ship into pieces and all the sailors cried out fervently for help – yet Jonah was surprisingly unmoved. His heart had been hardened by sin.
Being identified as the cause of all this calamity, Jonah was thrown over board by the other sailors. It would be very easy for the story to end here! A disobedient man runs away from God and as a result is thrown into the stormy seas and swallowed by a giant fish. End of story.
But it doesn’t end here – God gives Jonah his second chance! Jonah found himself alive, within the belly of that fish. From this place of darkness and isolation, he cried out for deliverance and God gave him another chance.
Many of us can relate to Jonah’s experience. Having run away from God and from His calling on our lives, we find ourselves in the midst of a storm. Our hearts are hardened and perhaps we are trying to fix things ourselves, or do things our own way. But ultimately we seem to come to our own personal low point, just like Jonah.
The good news is that no matter how far away we have run or where we have found ourselves as a result, we serve the God of second chances! He assures us in 1 John 1:9, that ‘if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just, to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness’.
And not only does He forgive us, but He also lifts us out of the miry clay, restores our relationship with Him and gives us another chance to respond to His call. As Romans 11:29 tells us, the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. What wonderful news!
So no matter where we find ourselves today, let’s be encouraged to stop running away. Instead, let’s turn back to God and cry out to Him for deliverance. He’s the God of second chances and He uses imperfect people – like Jonah, and each one of us!
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, Thank You for Your grace and Your mercy – that no matter how far away I have run or what sort of circumstances I now find myself in, You offer me another chance. I’m sorry for running away from You, and I choose today to turn around and run back to You. I gratefully accept the gifts and the calling that You have given me and I choose now to respond to You and walk in Your ways. In Jesus’ name, Amen.