And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.
Jonah got a second chance, but his mission didn’t change. God didn’t change. God’s commandment didn’t change. It was Jonah who had to change. And whether he repented because he didn’t want to face another harrowing trial in a fish’s belly or because he truly sought to do God’s will with a servant’s heart, this time he got up and went where he was supposed to go. But he had to learn a lesson first, and he had to have his own life-changing experience before he would be used to change the lives of others.
Sometimes we really do get a do-over. Sometimes God, through His grace, allows us another opportunity to make the right choice, trust Him, and obey. And we shouldn’t squander these chances, but instead prove to God that we’ve learned our lesson and truly do desire to please Him and honor Him, even if He is asking something of us that we don’t want to do. We truly have to humble ourselves in these moments and shed our own will in exchange for His.
Jonah took a really long detour, but it was those experiences he had between God’s first call to him and his ultimate obedience that shaped him in a certain way. And the same is true for us, as well. The experiences we have and the things we endure that cause us to repent change us significantly and hopefully equip us to better serve God in the future. They are hopefully experiences that we look back to that remind us where disobedience can take us and where running from God may lead us.
Let’s be grateful for second chances and not waste them. Let’s live with an understanding that it is not God who has to change, but us—our hearts, our attitudes, our motives and desires. Let’s be thankful for lessons learned and the changes that are produced in us through the process of repentance. And let’s determine to go forward in obedience to God wherever it may take us, because He is worthy of that kind of response from us.