Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Second Chance

As the crowds were increasing, He began to say, "This generation is a wicked generation; it seeks for a sign, and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah. For just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. (Luke 11:29-30 NASB)

And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights. (Jonah 1:17 NASB)

Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, "Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and proclaim to it the proclamation which I am going to tell you." So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, a three days' walk. (Jonah 3:1-3 NASB)

The detour should be at an end, but I turned the page and remembered the fish finale. It was too important to skip.

In the belly of the fish, Jonah, the runaway prodigal, came face to face with himself and his situation, if you can call being trapped alone inside a big fish in the depths of the ocean a "situation". Jonah knew he was dying. BUT. He was dying BUT God brought him up from the pit. Jonah had been close to the pit of death but "while I was fainting away", just before he died, "I remembered the Lord."

Jonah had a near death experience. In it, he came to a new understanding of God, and it changed him. Our hard times should do the same for us. Crisis should give us an understanding of our inadequacies in the face of adversity, drive us to God, and leave us both humbled and changed.

When Jonah landed on dry ground, God gave him a second chance. Jonah did not waste the opportunity. Despite his extreme prejudice against the people of Nineveh, he went as God had commanded. He did what God said. It was hard physically and emotionally, but he did it. He did it because of his experience in the fish.

I will never find myself in the literal belly of a fish, but my rebellion has landed me in a "belly" experience before. Maybe yours has, too. Once my "belly experience" was over, you can be sure I never wanted to repeat it again. It changed me. Rebellion and disobedience did not look so attractive. It looked abhorrent because of what I knew it could cost me. When my second chance came, like Jonah, I jumped to obey.

Are you in the midst of your own "belly" experience? How terrible it would be to waste the adversity. How foolish to go through a time of trouble, of discipline, and refuse to change, to learn from the experience that God has allowed. 

Let's not waste our "belly time". Allow it to change us, to humble us. Allow it to cause us to see God in a new way. Allow it to give us obedient hearts.

Greet the day with expectation that God will have some way you can serve Him. Greet Him with a heart ready and willing to do whatever He says. 

The words of an old hymn come to mind:
Will you live for Jesus? Then let His love make you what you ought to be.