I love my dog, Charlie. We adopted him from a shelter over a year ago, and man, was it a roller coaster week!
When we first saw him and interacted with him, he would not come near us. It was a great challenge to get him in the car and drive him home. What made matters worse was that he had several surgeries that day and was quite sick. Once we got home, I had to scrub clean the back seat of vomit and urine.
It probably took us a whole week for Charlie to let us pet him. We were never successful in “crate training”, as he’d always try to break out of whatever type of cage we’d leave him in.
For the first six months, we had him on Trazadone, anxiety medication, during the day as he’d try to destroy stuff when we were away.
We have concluded that our dog was abused and not taken care of by the previous owners; to end up on the streets of a large metropolitan city.
But we gave Charlie a second chance. And now, he is a happy 50-pound lap dog who rules the roost.
But we didn’t give up on Charlie. He is our puppy dog, and we gave him a second chance.
The prophet Jonah was also given a second chance.
By chapter three, this man has survived a terrible storm and been swallowed and delivered by a whale.
Now, instead of returning home, Jonah hears God’s voice a second time with the same message, “Get up! Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach the message that I tell you.”
And Jonah went to Nineveh according to the Lord’s command (Jonah 3:1-3).
Alright, Jonah! Lesson learned, second chance to obey God’s will made right. Once there, Jonah preached for several days walking through the streets, “In 40 days, Nineveh will be destroyed!”
The Assyrians, who Jonah despised as an enemy and maybe thought they would kill him on-site, opened their hearts and listened.
They believed in God and fasted and mourned – the entire city.
The king of Nineveh received Jonah’s message and responded with repentance. He stepped off his throne, stripped himself of his royal garments, and wore sackcloth while sitting in ashes to demonstrate severe mourning.
Then, the king issued a decree:
“By order of the king and his nobles: No person or animal, herd or flock, is to taste anything at all. They must not eat or drink water. Furthermore, both people and animals must be covered with sackcloth, and everyone must call out earnestly to God. Each must turn from his evil ways and from his wrongdoing. Who knows? God may turn and relent; he may turn from his burning anger so that we will not perish.”
This must have amazed Jonah; that a group of people he may have believed deserved wrath and destruction – would repent. Would turn away from their sin and plead for God’s forgiveness.
And God listened. Verse 10 states, “God saw their actions – that they had turned away from their evil ways – so God relented from the disaster he had threatened them with. And he did not do it.”
God is a God of second chances – for both Jonah and the Ninevites.
Jonah, the prophet of the Lord who had made a mistake by disobeying God and attempting to flee his presence.
The Ninevites, a people who worshipped war and violence.
Both received mercy and compassion from God.
Both received a second chance.
And let this be a message for you today – whether you feel like a Christian (Jonah) who has fallen from grace, or you have lived your entire life separated from God (Ninevites).
It is not too late for you. Like it wasn’t too late for my dog Charlie to find a loving home, no matter what you have done or have lived through, it is not too egregious that God can’t handle it or forgive it.
God loves you. Repent and believe.
In love and truth,