Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, ‘Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.’ So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Jonah 3:1-3
God is the God of second chances.
Jonah had responded to God’s call to warn Nineveh of His coming judgment by running off to hide. But when the call came again, he did not drag his feet the second time. Aware of his failure and of God’s grace toward him, he seemed eager to preach to them at the first opportunity. When we finally read of Jonah calling the people to repentance, we can imagine the weight of his own experience as he spoke firsthand about the divine consequences for disobedience. He brought a warning, and with it surely a personal testimony of the fact that God is both willing and able to save sinful people from even the most extreme circumstances. Though he would later prove not to have fully embraced the magnitude and scope of God’s grace (Jonah 4:1-3), the mercy that God had shown Jonah surely pervaded his message to the Ninevites. The one who had been given a second chance through the divine provision of a fish now held out a second chance to a city of men and women who had determinedly turned from the Lord.
Have you grasped that God is the God of second (and third and fourth) chances? Have you grasped that you cannot outrun God’s mercy or plumb the depths of His grace? If you have, then you surely will hold out the gospel message to others. And the way that you do so will reflect the mercy you have received. If Christians sound brittle, heartless, and legalistic as they talk about the faith, their hearts have not yet been softened enough by God’s mercy, grace, and love. If, however, there is a sense of the winning, wooing wonder of God’s mercy in a Christian’s words and deeds, it’s safe to assume that he or she has known such mercy.
The hymn writer Charles Wesley, won over by God’s mercy, readily proclaimed:
Depth of mercy! Can there be mercy still reserved for me?
Can my God His wrath forbear? Me, the chief of sinners, spare?
I have long withstood His grace: long provoked Him to His face;
Would not hearken to His calls; grieved Him by a thousand falls…
There for me the Savior stands, shows His wounds and spreads His hands:
God is love! I know, I feel; Jesus weeps, but loves me still.
Reflect on God’s mercy to you now—in bringing you to faith and then in His ongoing patience with you and forgiveness of you. Let the sense of wonder at His dealings with you permeate the way in which you tell the story of His redeeming love to others. And if there is someone you know whom you have failed to show God’s mercy or to share it with them when you had the opportunity, pray now for a second chance—and then seize it.