Second Chances

20160412_101846-1Today was a busy a long and busy day. But is was a good day. My day had of meetings had two significant personal connections, that served as the bookends of my day. This morning, I met with Marilyn Schock, the COO of Medical Center of the Rockies and Poudre Valley Hospital (part of UC Health Systems). When I was first hospitalized at McKee Hospital in July 2013, Marilyn was the CEO of the hospital. She made several late night visits to my ICU room to visit and encourage me. Her Occupational Therapy background equipped her with the ability to read lips. I was surprised how those visits that took place almost three years ago were so fresh in her mind. They provided greater insight to me of what I was experiencing and feeling during those early days. It was an honor to meet her when I was conscious and to present her with a copy of my book. (I will share about my end of the day meeting tomorrow)

BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY…Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time:  “Get up! Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach the message that I tell you.”  So Jonah got up and went to Nineveh according to the Lord’s command.” Jonah 3:1-3 HCSB

Have you ever been given a “second chance”? While life does not have a “rewind” button, we are often afforded a second chance. Perhaps it is in a job, a marriage, in school, in a friendship. A second chance indicates an opportunity to “get it right” the second time. It is an opportunity to redeem past failures or missed opportunities. Life can be unforgiving, so when second chances come our way, it is important to understand the “gift” we have been given.

Jonah had a second chance to respond to God’s call to preach to the city of Nineveh. It is easy to gloss over the statement, but it should get our attention, “Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time….” After surviving a fierce storm and spending three days in the belly of a fish, Jonah was in  a different state of mind.

The first time God spoke to Jonah this was his response,The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Get up! Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because their wickedness has confronted Me.”  However, Jonah got up to flee to Tarshish from the Lord’s presence….” (Jonah 1:1-3 HCSB)

Jonah not only rejected the Lord’s instruction, he tried to get as far as he could from Nineveh and the presence of the Lord. But Jonah found the Lord could put a “hook” in the plans of man as easy as a man can put a hook in the mouth of a fish.

Sometimes the preparation for a second chance requires the Lord getting our attention through some difficult situations and circumstances. Jonah being fish bait was unique, but the Lord can use other means to get our attention. Like Jesus words to Saul on the road to Damascus we learn “It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” (Acts 26:14 NIV) or as the New Living Translation explains, “It is useless for you to fight against my will.”

Jonah became the most effective evangelist of his day. Going in to the capital city of the enemy of Israel and preaching judgment, the people begin to heed the message and respond in fasting and repentance. Some commentators believe the effectiveness of Jonah’s message may have been enhanced by the seaweed around his head and his skin bleached pale by the stomach acids of a fish! I’m thankful God uses those who have a “second chance.” Missed opportunities, can be turned into redeemed opportunities when God is in charge of our life.

I am thankful for one who has been given a “second chance.” Not only in life, but in a focus of life that is bringing greater glory and honor to the Lord. My health crisis has afforded opportunities for ministry and an impact on others that is greater than that which I had when in active pastoral ministry.

Going into politics was not a “walking away” from God, but it was a significance change from the focus of ministry that had been a part of my life for almost 28 years. While the opportunities are far different than in the past, the Lord has provided an outlet for sharing Biblical truth as a teacher and coming alongside of people in the sunset years of life as a pastor that resonated with me in the early years of my call to ministry.

You may not have the opportunity for a complete “do over” but the Lord will provide you a “second chance” if you ask for it, recognize it and seize it. It is all part of His work of redemption.