Friday, December 30, 2016

TheStoryOfJonah : The God of Second Chances

Oh how many 'second chances' has the LORD given us! 

Look back over your life and I will guarantee that you'll see the LORD giving you another chance (maybe even another chance after that too!).  I don't know why...

As I reflect on this, it really strikes me as a concept that I know very little about. It's more than grace. It's more than being kind. It's giving people more than they deserve. I guess you could define it as mercy. 

Mercy is defined at as:

The discretionary power of a judge to pardon someone or to mitigate punishment, especially to send to prison rather than invoke the death penalty.

Whereas grace is defined as:
A manifestation of favor, especially by a superior: 'It was only through the dean's grace that I wasn't expelled from school'. (Synonyms to forgiveness, charity, mercifulness).

God chose to give Jonah a second chance. He chose to allow the whale to vomit him back on land and bestow on him favour, grace and mercy. As we will read more of his story soon, (which I have read through already to get a flavour of the text before beginning this devotional), this merciful extending of the LORD becomes even more mercy-filled. Jonah really didn't deserve it because, as the hymn-writer penned, he was prone to wander. Yet God truly desired to give Jonah mercy. His tactics may not have been the most favourable in Jonah's mind, but they were effective. God chose to literally give him a second birth, a second chance to re-do what he was originally was supposed to do.

How many times would we like a re-do? Have you ever wished you could have taken back that word you said to that person that just seemed to change the tone of your relationship forever? Have you ever wished that your action that you did, regretting it later, could have been reversed by a 'Jonah-whale' experience? The fact remains that God does give us second (third, fourth, fifth, etc.) chances. If only we saw these and reflected on the grace of our LORD, I think it would change whether we do these things that caused the second or third re-do in the first place.  

Paul, in his letter to the people living in Rome (chapter 6 esp.), explains the value of trusting in Christ's finished work on the Cross and our response to it.

Paul writes, 
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. (Rom. 6:1-7)

It isn't a popular focus when we read of Jonah (reflecting back to our Sunday School years with flannel-graphs) but what we have here is a man who did not listen to the LORD and suffered the consequences of it. We are not to toy with God. The LORD had a specific task that He wanted Jonah to do, and was serious enough about it to send a message that Jonah would never forget. Yet, looking at it the other way, now that we have completed chapter 2, God was serious enough about these peoples' rebellion that He gave Jonah a second chance so that the people of Nineveh could repent. The LORD is stills serious enough about it today.

He may have you and I in a whale-experience right now. If we are to choose to surrender and repent, He desires to use us. And He desires to bestow on us grace and mercy. God's actions on His part have always been a mystery to me, but thanks be to God, the mystery of what He does is just the same as how He does it. His grace is a mystery. His mercy is a mystery. Why He chooses to give us another chance is beyond me. But may we bask in this grace and mercy today and honour Him by saying yes and following His design for our lives. 

May you and yours experience the LORD's blessings in your life this 2017. Thank you for following me.

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