By Amy Persons Parkes
Second chances often begin with someone covered in vomit. (See Jonah 2:10.) Perhaps our own second chances began with the nauseous feeling produced when truth and denial converged inside of us. In this way, Jonah’s story is similar to our own. The first time God spoke to Jonah and called him to the onerous task of offering grace and forgiveness to his nation’s archenemy, Jonah ran from the promise of a second chance for Nineveh.
Today’s passage begins with a second chance for Jonah. God speaks to Jonah a second time and calls him to proclaim God’s impending judgment on Nineveh. This time, freshly spewed from his recent denial of God’s ability to forgive and embrace all people (regardless of nationality or history), Jonah proceeds toward the promise of a second chance—for himself and for the Ninevites. By moving toward the promise of a second chance, Jonah lives into his vocation; and the Ninevites, acknowledging their own need and desire to live in unity with God, repent of their hateful ways.
Like Jonah, we may have doubted the nudge of God’s Spirit when the radical nature of God’s grace offended our personal sense of righteousness. Like Jonah, possibly we have rejected outright the clear direction of God’s intent to love us, our neighbors, and our enemies unconditionally. However, this passage offers the assurance that God is invested in offering second chances. Today, we hear again, what God can do in us and others when we proceed toward the second chance God offers.
Help me, God, to recognize the difference between your truth and my denial and to take a step toward the promise of a second chance. Amen.