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Ad Infinitum

How many times do we venture into things without thinking? If you are anything like me, you have probably undertaken a few things you'd look back on now and admit freely you had no business getting involved in that task or doing whatever it was that got you into the muddle it did. If you were to ask me to describe a characteristic about God which most could understand, I'd have to say my first inclination would be to describe him as a God of "second chances". He has many attributes, but the one which speaks to me the most is his grace. Grace is undeserved favor - it is God giving us a second chance (and often a third, fourth, fifth, ad infinitum). Do you know what 'ad infinitum' means? Again and again, in the same way, forever! Whether it is one of us that finds ourselves 'in a bad way', or another God brings across our paths, the answer is always the same - we need his grace!

Next, God spoke to Jonah a second time: "Up on your feet and on your way to the big city of Nineveh! Preach to them. They're in a bad way and I can't ignore it any longer." This time Jonah started off straight for Nineveh, obeying God's orders to the letter. (Jonah 3:1-3)

Jonah did not listen the first time. Sound like anyone else we might know? He preferred his own way over God's and look where it got him! First, there was this huge, almost overwhelming storm. Then a whole bunch of guys he didn't even know turn on him, afraid for their own lives, and certain his actions were causing their discomfort. If that was not enough, he ended up overboard, swallowed by a some kind of huge, stinky fish! Our running from God may not have landed us in such an "interesting" place, but I guess we have had some of those moments we'd all call "God putting us right where we need to be" in order to get our undivided attention! It is only when God gets our attention that we actually realize we even need a second chance! We have to recognize we have acted wrong if we ever expect to act right! Unfortunately, the point between the wrong choice and the realization of how far it has taken us off-course may be longer than we realize. It may produce a lot of 'smelly', 'uncomfortable', and 'undesirable' outcomes before we come to our senses.

In the period of time between the choice to do wrong and the actions which lead up to us realizing the wrong choice, a whole lot of things may happen. We may make a whole series of wrong choices - leading to a whole series of wrong actions. We may engage others in our journey - or at least see them affected by the choices we have been making! The good news is God cares enough about each of us to prepare a point in time for our second chance! The grace of God pursues us until we actually realize we have need for it - something called love actually motivates that tenacity, my friends! Grace and love are really "intertwined" character traits of God. Where you see his love, you also observe his grace in action - grace is an action on God's part - it is the 'setting things right again' part of love. Where grace abounds, his love is up close and personal! To be embraced by grace is to be embraced in God's love! To realize God's love, you only need to look as far as his grace - as his 'setting things right' actions in our lives.

How far have you traveled from where God intended for you to be today? Regardless of the distance you have placed between yourself and God's plan for your life, the road is clearly marked with all kinds of "grace markers". They are like little direction signs back to the place where we got off track! When we look close enough, we see his "grace" all along the way. He has pursued us all along the way - those "grace markers" are actually his evidence of his pursuit of us - he placed those markers there so we'd know the way back! I understand God's grace because I have needed it so often. I appreciate his love because it has embraced me over and over again. The tendency to need his grace is still there in my life, no matter how many times I have experienced it! I still make wrong choices - but I hope the distance between the first wrong step and the realization of my need to turn back into his arms is not as far! He is indeed a God of second chances - rich in grace each time we need it! If you find yourself in need of following his "grace markers" right back into his awaiting arms, don't hesitate today! You know what a second chance is? It is kind of like when we are given a "do over!" We are getting a second chance - not because we deserve it - but because he loves us enough to let us take those steps back into obedience! Isn't it just like our loving God to grant us a "do over" when we need it most? So, if you hear his voice extending "do overs" today, take it - you need it more than you realize!  Just sayin!

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