God of a Second Chance

Preface: In the Bible, to know someone means to have a personal, intimate relationship with him or her. How much more so with our heavenly Father?

I have always wondered about Jonah. He was chosen of God to be His prophet—a high honor indeed. At times I thought that he must have had a special relationship with God for him to have been chosen to be a prophet. But the more I look at Jonah, the more I see myself. Jonah was not anybody special. He had a bad attitude—just like me. Sure, he was a prophet of God, but he wanted to be used in low-risk situations that yielded high praise. As long as he did not have to leave his comfort zone, he was pleased to serve God. But God offered Him an opportunity to do more—to be more. When he had to leave the comfortable pew and enter the realm of the unconverted, he balked.

Whether we are Christians for a day or a lifetime, God has at some point invited us to leave our comfort zones. He asked us to join the campus ministry or the community services team or the prison ministry—to do some uncool, unpopular thing. And like Jonah, we have balked. We have run away, opting instead to do the easy task. We say we will let our lives testify while our mouths are silent. Yet symbolically, we run away from God.

Even as Jonah ran, God sent a whale speeding his way. The Bible says the fish was prepared for him. The whale was not sent to destroy Jonah, but to slow him down so that he could think. It was not sent out of anger to torment Jonah, it was sent out of love as a testimony of the goodness of God. He gave him another opportunity to grow in His grace. The experience of doing God’s will helps us to grow. No, we may not become spiritual giants overnight or through one successful experience, but with each chance we have hope and the promise of perfection. With each step on the path God has chosen for us, we become as gold tried in the fire—refined to be our best in Him and through Him. Thank God for second chances!

1. How does the fact that God gave Jonah a second chance affect your relationship with Him? Be specific.
2. How does the fact that God gave Jonah a second chance affect your relationship with others?
3. Are faith-testing experiences essential for Christian growth? Why or why not?
4. In what instances in your own life have you clearly sensed God’s special interest in you? Be specific.
5. Have you ever been reluctant to do something God asked you to do? What was the outcome?