“And the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid (tell) thee.”Jonah 3:1-2
Rebekah was my first real girlfriend, and I was thrilled we were going out. I was head over heels for this girl, and I could not wait to get to school just to see her. I was not much into academics – single cell amoebas and history lessons did little to pique my interest – but her blonde hair and blue eyes got me quite interested. Although we were “going out”, we really did not go anywhere but I escorted her to the locker area, and I sat with her at lunch. We had a 24-inch rule at school in those days which I always tried to break when I infringed on the 16 inch area closeness. Our Christian school was well ahead of the social distancing recommendations of 2020, and they had an eagle eye which seemed to automatically measure the distance like Robocop.
I thought our relationship would never end, but as youth often do, I became arrogant in my position and I chose to put my popularity over her feelings. I made fun of her hair style which, in my defense, was pretty bad and mirrored that of a clown at a kid’s birthday party who was in charge of making animal balloons. I never meant to hurt her feelings, but I was only trying to be funny. I dared not tease her about her hair to her face, but word travelled fast throughout the family camp we were at, and she learned of it which led to my demise. She dropped me like a hot plate and my heart broke like a plate that hit the floor. She tells me now that she was sad to break up with me, which makes no sense to me. I pondered in my mind and I thought if you were sad, why did you do it? I guess it was like the parent who tells their child “this hurts me more than it will hurt you” but still commences to spank you anyway. Go figure!
The moment Rebekah broke up with me, I could only think of a way to win her back. I put the full court press on her, and I tried to leverage my friends to try and drop subtle hints so she did not forget about me or have any ideas of dating other guys. The school year started after the summer break up, and I had made Rebekah’s top three list, and I knew I had a good chance. She gave me another shot and I was able to hold on for seven months that time, as opposed to the the two-month streak prior. Eight years would pass after this on-again-off-again time, and I made her my wife. They say the third time’s a charm, and I am grateful that she gave me a second and third chance. We have now been married for 23+ years, and we have made vows ’til death us do us part. Although I am glad she gave me another chance, I am grateful to God for the million+ chances He has given me in my life.
Jonah was given a second chance to obey God after he disobeyed and went in the opposite direction God had called him to. The Word of the Lord came to him a second time, and he was commanded once again to go and preach to the people of Nineveh. You may not have physically tried to run from God’s command, but we have all sought to go our own way. We have sought to go in the opposite direction of God’s Word, and we have been pulled to the bright lights of sin. We have rested in the “boat”, content in our sin only to realize that it was leading us to shipwreck and utter demise. When the seas of sin engulfed us, we have cried out to God, and He has always been faithful to forgive us and set our feet upon the Solid Rock. I am grateful to a God of second chances, and I long not to stray from Him.
Have you wandered out of God’s path? Have you sought your own way? Have you desired to go the way of the world? Do you feel like God would not welcome you back? 1 John 1:9 reminds us that when we confess our sin, God is faithful to forgive. Have you come to know that there is hope for you as long as you have breath in your lungs? God will welcome you home if you will repent and confess your sins. May we take advantage of a forgiving God who gives second, third and a million chances, and may we run back to the loving arms of our Heavenly Father.