February 12, 2008

Ok, so you Blew it...

“Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time, saying, ‘Arise, go to Nineveh…’” Jonah 3.1-2

Here we are in mid-February, and some of us need to be encouraged by the story of Jonah. Perhaps as Missions Week came and went, “the word of the LORD” came to you, urging us to do this, or give that, or go there; perhaps the New Year brought about fresh resolves to be and do what the LORD requires; perhaps in recent weeks, “the word of the LORD” has come to you in the book of Hebrews, charging you to have done with lesser things and “pay much closer attention” to the main thing, Jesus…but in all these things, you’ve found yourself, after a few weeks, sailing in the wrong direction.

Isn’t it amazing (and frightening) how quickly we can forget “the word of the LORD” that once came to us powerfully? But isn’t it refreshing to hear Jonah’s story? “The word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time”! God’s good plans for Jonah did not ultimately rest on the faithfulness of Jonah…for even “if we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself” (2 Tim 2.13)! Yet, God does want us to be faithful. He does want us to obey “the word of the LORD”. And very often, when we fail, He gives us a second chance! What good news…that, even though you may have blown it these last few weeks, God is not finished with you!

I’m thinking, particularly this morning, about the resolves many of us made to be more often, more faithfully, and more attentively in the Scriptures this New Year. How have you done? My goal was to meditate slowly (so I could really pay attention) through the book of Hebrews ten times between January and June. And even though I intended to go slowly, I am already behind! So how do I respond? Do I say to myself: ‘Aargh! I blew it again. Might as well just wait and try again next January’? Of course not! Instead, I remember that God is the God of second chances, and I keep plugging along!

You must do the same. OK, maybe you were already supposed to be in Numbers by now, and you’re only half way through Exodus. It’s not the end of the world. Keep pressing forward. Maybe God will allow you to catch up. If not…better to have read some of the Bible in ’08 than to have given up early!

Now, one last word to prevent you from even greater despair: Do not for a moment think that taking advantage of your second chance will somehow make up for a blown first one. That is not how forgiveness works! You can read the Bible through 500 times between now and the end of your life and never make up for previous negligence; and never make up for impure thoughts; and never make up for dishonoring your parents; and never make up for __________. That’s not how forgiveness works! Second chances aren’t an opportunity to redeem yourself. Second chances are evidence that you have been redeemed!

You see, if God were to give us all what we deserve, none of us would ever have a second chance at anything. We’d have all been cast into the lake of fire the moment we first sinned. So the second chance can’t possibly be a do-over to make up for old wrongs. The second chance is evidence that Someone else has already made up for old wrongs so that, having been forgiven them, we might live long enough to get the second chance! And that Someone is Jesus!

So as you take advantage of your second chances, think not of them as opportunities for redemption, but rather of reminders of the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. And let His redemption spur you to deeper faith and obedience:

“So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh according to the word of the Lord.” Jonah 3.3

1 comment:

coalsand84 said...

What an interesting way to look at second chances...I never thought about them in this way. Thanks for sharing, Kurt!