If you ask Robbie’s three older sisters to cite the quote they’d heard most often during his growing up years, that would probably be it: “Wait…what?”
Maybe in a house full of women, a guy has to learn to hone his selective listening skills, lest he get swept away in the torrent of daily verbiage. And maybe Robbie turned the dial a little to far to the right. It’s not like he was trying to ignore us (at least that’s what we tell ourselves), but golly. If we had a nickel for every time we heard, “Wait…what?” during a dinner table conversation, well. You know.
Sometimes the girls and I would repeat ourselves; sometimes we’d just roll our eyes and say, “Forget it, Robbie.”
Thank goodness God’s not like that.
Reading Jonah’s story the other day, I couldn’t help but think about all the times I would have missed God, had he not been willing to repeat himself. Sometimes it’s my own “Wait…what?” lack of attentiveness that dulls my radar; other times, I deliberately choose not to listen. Like Jonah, I don’t always want to hear God speak – or to obey him, when he does.
I think it was Charles Spurgeon who said, “God never allows his children to sin successfully.” Jonah may have taken a detour when he ran away from God, but his story was far from over. God hadn’t given up on him. After that uncomfortable business with the fish (my Bible says it “vomited Jonah onto dry land,” which had to have been fairly awkward for both of them), we read that “the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time.”
A second time.
How good is God?
If you feel like you’ve missed God’s original instruction – be it in a relationship, a business decision, a move, or whatever – don’t let that get you down. He’s the God of second chances. He’s willing to speak a second time…or even a third, it that’s what it takes.
We can run away if we want, but – to paraphrase Spurgeon – it’s only a matter of time until we trip. And when we do, guess who’s gonna help us get back on our feet and pointed in the right direction?
Yep. He’s pretty good.
(And P.S., if you like the Jonah pic that accompanies this blog, you’ll love the book it’s from: The Jesus Storybook Bible, by written by Sally Lloyd-Jones and illustrated by Jago. It looks like its for kids, but don’t let the cover fool you. Lloyd-Jones takes all of the stories you read as a child – Noah, Joseph, Daniel – and shows how, in every case, they point the way to Jesus. Very cool. Click here if you’d like to buy your own copy!)