Second Chances

Second Chances

Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh . . .” Jonah 3:1

I often write of the disastrous consequences of my addiction, but I don’t often write about all the warning tremors that came before the great earthquake. In my addiction, constantly terrified of discovery, I had several close calls when I thought my terrible secret was exposed. Each time, I prayed, begging God for protection. Just get me out of this and I’ll stop using. Once the tremor passed though, I was right back at it. I got second, third, and fourth chances, and still, I refused change. It wasn’t until the great quake hit, levelling my life, that I realized what a second chance really meant.

Jonah, against all odds, got his miraculous second chance. Having spent three days and nights in Sheol (Jonah 2;2), in the belly of the fish, God delivered Jonah, resurrecting him to life. In his penitent prayer, Jonah vowed obedience to God, but I have to wonder if Jonah secretly hoped that he had escaped Nineveh. Maybe in my absence, God sent someone else.

God wanted Jonah though and gave him a second chance at life . . . and at obedience. God caused the fish to vomit Jonah up and then repeated his command, Go to Nineveh. This time, having learned a painful lesson, Jonah wasted no time in obeying. Jonah used his second chance to follow God in radical obedience.

This is, after all, what second chances are for – repentance. It is insanity to repeat the same destructive behavior over and over, expecting different results. This though, is exactly what I did in my addiction. Though the tremors warned me repeatedly of the approaching disaster, each time, I pretend-repented, and then promptly resumed my course.

If we truly desire a second chance at life though, we must embrace what that second chance means. Like Jonah, we must commit to radical change. If we want to know the joy and peace of God, we must turn from our way to follow his. Faith and recovery are found only by abandoning the path that led us to disaster in the first place.

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