ESSAY-LIKE SUNDAY MORNING: Today’s lesson was beautifully taught by Sister Johnson. It continued a study of the Book of Jonah, which gives an account of the events surrounding Jonah’s rebellion against God’s command that he go to the great city of Nineveh and preach to them. He was to tell them that the City was headed for destruction if they didn’t change their wicked ways. Jonah was reluctant to obey because he didn’t like the Ninevites particularly well. They were Assyrians and the Assyrians had held the Israelites in bondage in the past.
Jonah tried to hide from God, but for a prophet, he wasn’t especially fluent in God’s ways. One does not hide from God. God allowed Jonah to be tossed from a boat while a storm raged. He was drowning; sinking slowly but surely to the bottom of the sea, but he started praying like he’d never prayed before. God had a huge fish waiting for this very moment. He sent the fish to Jonah’s rescue. The fish swallowed Jonah and had a stomach ache for 3 days. Then, when the fish could no longer stand it, he puked Jonah out on the beaches of Nineveh. God gave Jonah a SECOND CHANCE to do His will.
The lesson today was entitled, A WAKE-UP CALL. Jonah received a wake-up call. The Scripture was from Jonah 3:1-10. The KEY VERSE was verse 10 which reads, “When God saw what they did and how they turned form their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened” (NIV). The denizens of Nineveh ALSO received a reprieve. Because they listened to the WAKE-UP CALL sent to them by God through Jonah, they TOO received a SECOND CHANCE.
SECOND CHANCES come in all shapes and sizes. There’s one for you and there’s one for me. We’ve often heard it said that EVERYONE deserves a SECOND CHANCE or CHANCES. In fact, know that we are not limited to just ONE SECOND CHANCE, nor or we limited to just SECOND chances. Sometimes we receive THIRD, FOURTH, and FIFTH chances. The number of chances we are allowed to get something right, is limited only by the length of our lives. As long as we live and breathe, there is another chance.
As a child, Gramp had a stereo record-player/radio combination. It was a floor model. When the top was closed, it was just a piece of furniture on which, lamps and other nick-knacks sat. But, when the top was opened, it became a major source of entertainment in Gramp’s and Granddaddy’s house. As a matter of fact, they had one of the only record-players on South Street. Mr. Jule Wynn and other neighbors often came to listen to that stereo. Gramp had quite a record collection too. In her collection were greats like Mahalia Jackson and Reverend James Cleveland, but her collection wasn’t just limited to Gospel and Spirituals, she also had some BLUE comedy. Most notably, she had a recording of “The World’s Funniest Woman”, Ms. Jackie “Moms” Mabley. One of my favorite of Moms’ funny stories dealt with SECOND CHANCES also, and it went a little something like this:
“There was this guy coming from Chicago. He was driving one the new Oldsmobiles. On the passenger side of that Oldsmobile he had a pretty little gal he’d picked up along the way. Suddenly, while cruising through Mississippi, just bopping to the sound of some down-home blues, a set of flashing blue and red lights appeared in the rear-view mirror. The man pulled his Oldsmobile over onto the side of the road. The police car pulled up behind him and a big burly white State Trooper got out and saddled up to the driver side of the Oldsmobile. He motioned for the man to roll down his window; the man obliged.
‘Where ya from boy?’ the trooper demanded. ‘Well, not that it’s ya business’ the man replied cockily, ‘but I’m from Hollywood!’. ‘Well who’s that woman in your passenger seat? ‘Oh, that’s Susan Haywood’, replied the man, winking at the girl. ‘What kinda car ya drivin’?’ ‘Fleetwood!’ replied the man. ‘What’s ya occupation?’ ‘Drive Good’ smirked the man’. ‘So, you’re a smart guy’ the cop said, scowling.
The cop reached and pulled out his blue steel .45 revolver and whacked the man across the temple with it, then aimed it between the man’s eyes. ‘Now let’s try this thing again. Where ya from boy?’ ‘Mobile’ replied the man sobbingly. ‘Who’s that lady there?’ ‘Lucille’, cried the man. ‘What kinda car ya drivin’?’ ‘Oldsmobile’, wept the man. ‘What’s your occupation now boy?’ ‘Cottonfield’ the man replied, ‘Where ya get ya clothes?’ Sadly, the man replied, ‘Goodwill’. ‘What made ya change your mind son?’ the cop asked with a smile. ‘THAT BLUE STEEL’, croaked the man.”
This poor fellow got a SECOND CHANCE but he had to feel that blue steel first, just as Jonah’s SECOND CHANCE was experienced after a trial by water and 3 days in the belly of a fish [can you imagine how he must have smelled? No wonder the Ninevites repented. God’s ways…] What about that “Prodigal Son”? He had it all and blew it, but after he’d sank as low as a man could go, his father was waiting with open arms AND a SECOND CHANCE!
GOD GIVES SECOND CHANCES AND SO SHOULD WE!