Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time.
I believe in a God of second chances. Like Jonah, at some time in our life, we have all failed in our at some life endeavor, including those important life tasks given to us by God. To be human, in part, is to fall short of our ideals, and to fall short of God’s glory. To be God is to offer second chances, coming once again with grace after failure. To be truly human, we accept the gift of a second chance, get up and journey onward by faith, hope and love.
I try to imagine Jonah, vomited up onto the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, with eyes squinting in the bright Middle Eastern sun, stunned that he’s alive and once again standing on ‘terra firma,’ toes sinking into the wet sand of that beach, wondering what to do next. The answer comes quickly. Jonah is given a second chance. The God of compassion at the heart of our story calls Jonah a “second time.”
The Book of Jonah begins with the “word of the Lord.” On this first week of summer 2014, just as I wrote on the first week of Advent 2013, in Jonah Project Week 1 last December, this summer, “you may want to pause for a few moments to quiet your mind, take a few deep breaths, listen to your heart beating, and consider the mystery of ‘the word of the LORD coming.’ Long ago, the word of the LORD came to Jonah. May guidance for your life be the word of LORD coming to you this summer season, coming in the quiet, in the stillness, in the brightness of the noonday sun, in the surprising whisper in the night, as you reflect upon a verse of Scripture or read God’s Word today. May you find time and place in your day this week to pause and receive the mystery and wonder of God’s Word, coming to us through Scripture and through our Lord Jesus Christ “a second time.” In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The Word of the LORD came and the Word of the LORD continues to come!”
I love the poem “If I had my life to live over”, by 85 year old Nadine Stair, a poem about taking second chances, about taking risks, and the courage to get up again, and step forward with Jonah-like attentiveness to the gift of this new day.
If I had my life to live over,
I’d dare to make more mistakes next time.
I’d relax, I would limber up.
I would be sillier than I have been this trip.
I would take fewer things seriously.
I would take more chances.
I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers.
I would eat more ice cream and less beans.
I would perhaps have more actual troubles,
but I’d have fewer imaginary ones.
You see, I’m one of those people who live
sensibly and sanely hour after hour, day after day.
Oh, I’ve had my moments,
And if I had it to do over again, I’d have more of them.
In fact, I’d try to have nothing else.
Just moments, one after another,
instead of living so many years ahead of each day.
I’ve been one of those people who never goes anywhere
without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a raincoat and a parachute.
If I had to do it again, I would travel lighter than I have.
If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring
and stay that way later in the fall.
I would go to more dances.
I would ride more merry-go-rounds.
I would pick more daisies.1
“Sand Ballerina”, by Thomas Robinson.
1. Condensed Chicken Soup for the Soul, 1996, by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen & Patty Hansen.