Summary: Three steps back to God after you have blown it.
RETURNING TO GOD
DL Moody once told this story - In the Highlands of Scotland, a sheep would often wander off into the rocks and get into places that they couldn't get out of. The grass on these mountains is very sweet and the sheep like it, and they will jump down ten or twelve feet, and then they can't jump back again and the shepherd hears them bleating in distress. They may be there for days, until they have eaten all the grass. The shepherd will wait until they are so faint that they cannot stand, and then they will put a rope around him, and he will go over and pull that sheep up out of the jaws of death. "Why don't they go down there when the sheep first gets there? I asked. "Ah!" he said, "they are so very foolish they would dash right over the precipice and be killed if they did." Moody concludes his story by saying: "And this is the way with men; they won't go back to God till they have no friends and have lost everything."
Today we are continuing our series looking at the book of Jonah. Last week we looked at the cause and results of running from God. This week we will look at how to return to God and be forgiven.
Jonah 2:1 From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God. 2 He said: "In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry. 3 You hurled me into the deep, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me. 4 I said, `I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.' 5 The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. 6 To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you brought my life up from the pit, O LORD my God. 7 "When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, LORD, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. 8 "Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. 9 But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the LORD." 10 And the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land. 3:1 Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: 2 "Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you." Today I am not going to get into whether or not this was a fish or a whale. I do not think that is the point of the story. I am also not going to get into how Jonah was able to survive 3 days underwater. This was a miracle, and miracles are, by definition, miraculous. I am always amazed at how people, sometimes even Christians, feel like they have to explain God’s miracles. Well, maybe this was a whale and it had swallowed a lot of air etc. The fact is that, at just the right moment, in just the right place, God did something supernaturally. I do not think HOW God did it is the point. I want to look at WHY God did it. What was the reason?
Running from God put Jonah in a very dangerous position. But God had not abandoned him. The fish was God’s miraculous provision, it was his supernatural Uber to rescue him from the sea and get him back to dry land. Like the prodigal son, He may allow him to sink to the lowest depths of life, but He never forsakes them. How do you return to God after running from Him?
You may not have run from God like Jonah did, but along the way you have let your relationship with Him slide. You have forgotten your first love. New Testament parallel passage:
Rev. 2:3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. 4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 5 Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lamp stand from its place.
1. REMEMBER - Restored Relationship (vs. 2:1-8)
In verse 7 Jonah says “I remembered you, LORD, and my prayer rose to you”. Remembering God’s love and responding to it through prayer is the first step in restoring your relationship with God. God stands ready to speak with us always. Jonah’s “remembers” the Lord and his prayer is his way of responding to, not initiating, contact with God. Like the Father of the prodigal son God stand always looking down the road waiting for our return. He is ready and willing to accept us home and to forgive us everything wrong we have done.