When you have walked away from God’s best for you, there is a way back to total restoration in your walk with God. Jonah offers a model of restoration in four stages:
1. The classroom of repentance (vv. 1-3). Principle: Recognize it doesn’t matter where you are (v. 1); how you feel (v. 2a); when you are calling (i.e. “at death’s door”, v. 2b); how far you have sunk because of what you’ve done (v. 3)…YOU CAN FIND GOD when you choose to turn back to Him! It is incredibly important to remember. Sin isolates us and drives us to hide from others. In the classroom of repentance, I learn the lesson of my need – restoration. Standing alone in the cold, I can see there are no “God-forsaken” places or people!
2. The causeway of repentance (vv. 4-6). Principle: Understand that finding God involves a commitment to face God (v. 4); recognition of our utter helplessness when living in self will (v. 5); an acknowledgement of God’s control and desire (v. 6). The longer I live the more I am convinced that sin can never be satisfied by placating and feeding – it is insatiable. If I want victory, I am going to need to face my hardness and admit it before God so that blessing will again be renewed.
3. The confession of a repentant heart (vv. 7-9). Principle: Examine the areas of disobedience that brought you to this place. In Jonah’s case he “forgot God” (7a); neglected prayer (7b); believed lies (“you can run from God…”v.8); lost thankfulness (9a); forgot to obey his vow to give God his life (9b). Sin doesn’t make us HATE GOD, it makes us FORGET GOD. We act like He doesn’t see us where we are!
4. The completion of repentance: a renewal (9b-10). Principle: God delivers a man for the purpose of SERVING HIM in obedience. God did not send him back to ship he was running on, but onward to the place of his mission! He has a purpose for us, and He knows what He was buying when He redeemed us. He is not surprised. It is not for myself I have been redeemed, but for my Redeemer. The longer I live, and the better I know Him, the better that truth sounds.