Over the past few years, I have developed a friendship with an amazing man named Franco Antonetti. Franco’s incredible journey of survival is documented in his book I Wouldn’t Die. From the time he was born in Rome, Italy in 1944, Franco faced death’s door more than anyone I’ve ever known who lived to tell about it. When an abortion attempt failed as a baby, he survived only to be buried alive at three months old because they thought he was dead when he stopped breathing. Just months later he was in a bicycle accident that would have killed most people, but only to be dropped and his skull cracked on the way home from the hospital. Years would pass, but the trials did not. He swam across a river and ended up battling for his life in a swamp of quicksand. As he grew to a man, he continued to face life threatening scenarios.
Once he stepped into the corporate world he experienced phenomenal success that was only followed by devastating disappointments. If a cat is said to have nine lives, then Franco would be a tiger! By his own admission “..he survived by…God’s grace” and “…began to realize he was blessed.” He would be the first to tell you he serves a God of second chances.
Have you ever noticed in Scripture how many times the Lord called or came “the second time”? Sometimes He brought stern warning while other times He extended profound grace and abundant blessing. But in every case it implied the Lord was not through yet! In each of our lives there have been moments when our spiritual obituary was written and our tombstone engraved. The world had given up on us, and friends could scarcely be found. Were you not deeply humbled and speechless when the Lord called or came “the second time”? Whether we are a Jonah in the belly of a great fish, an Elijah sulking in discouragement beneath a juniper tree or a semi-blind man in need of a second touch, when the Lord moves “the second time” in our lives, flowers blossom in desert places. In His sovereign compassion for us, the Lord puts lilies in our valleys, healing salt in our tears and sunshine above our rain clouds. He IS the God of second chances! Today in your life the heavens may seem closed and the heat without rain has scorched your soul. What would you give for “the second time”? In golf, we call it a mulligan. On a video tape, we call it rewind. But “the second time” of the Lord is known as abounding grace.
“The second time” of the Lord signifies a fresh start.
Jonah was a man chosen of the Lord to lead in a miraculous revival in Nineveh. When he chose to run in the opposite direction the ship of his life was unable to withstand the wind of God on the stormy sea. They lightened the load and even rowed harder, but not until Jonah was in the belly of the fish did he pray unto the Lord. Whether it is the wind, the waves or the whale, the Lord never runs out of resources to grab our attention! For three days and nights the sailors must have recounted the amazing story of how Jonah was swallowed and surely must be dead by now. However, from the depths of darkness, “…the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time…” The Lord was not through with Jonah yet.
When Peter fell to the depths of failure when he denied the Lord, it appeared his best days were behind him. But, in John 21, when Jesus said “the second time” AND “the third time”, “…lovest thou me?” He was restoring him to a new beginning. The world may be limited in its love and chances, but the love of the Lord gives more than a second chance. He gives us a second wind!
“The second time” of the Lord submits a faithful summons.
In I Kings 19, sitting beneath the juniper tree, Elijah had given up in discouragement and was hoping to die in order to escape his circumstances. At his lowest, “…the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him…” With this second visitation came a caution and warning, “…arise and eat, because the journey is too great for thee.” Without “the second time” Elijah would never have had the strength to get where the Lord wanted him to go.
As a child, I can recall my father saying to me on occasion, “I’m only going to tell you one time.” If I heard it a second time, it carried a greater sense of urgency and a lesser sense of understanding. Had Lot not received a second warning he would have lost more than his dignity and influence in the judgment of Sodom. If only Peter had run before “the second time the cock crew.” If only Balaam had rejected the second offer of Balak. To walk intimately with the Lord is to recognize the change in the tone of His second approach. “The second time” of the Lord may just prevent a first catastrophe!
“The second time” of the Lord suggests a fruitful season.
In Genesis 22 when Abraham passed the test of his faith to offer his son Isaac, “the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time…” The angel was delivering a promise of blessing to his family for generations because of his faithfulness. The key to experiencing more of “the second times” of the Lord requires being faithful and obedient with “the first time.” Once Solomon completed construction of the house of the Lord, “the Lord appeared to Solomon the second time…” with a covenant of blessing on the temple. Once Jeremiah submitted to the overwhelming vision of the Lord for his life, the word of the Lord came to him “the second time…” with a promise to stand with him. The Lord is never obligated to reveal His will for our lives if our hearts are not committed to doing it!
As I think of the moment when the Lord was in the Garden of Gethsemane just hours away from the cross, I am so indebted that “He went away again the second time, and prayed…” Truly, He could have called ten thousand angels and brought to an end His struggle and turmoil. However, His going “away again the second time” was His heart not giving up on you and me, and preparing for us a second chance when we had not even yet had the opportunity to blow the first chance. How thankful I am that the Lord has never given up on me. Like Joseph, when no one else would have believed in me, he let me “dream yet another dream.” While there may be “but a step between me and death,” I’ve come to learn it is not over till the Lord says so!
Your Most Proud Pastor,
© 2007 Alan Stewart
Alan Stewart: Dr. Alan Stewart has served as Senior Pastor of Rechoboth Baptist since December 1999. He attended The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Moody Bible Institute, Covington Theological Seminary, and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary.
Prior to pastoring the Tennessee church, Alan was an evangelist for 15 years. He has preached revivals/pastor’s conferences in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland. He also preached crusades/conferences in India, Hungary, and conducted a crusade in South Africa in August of 2009. Pastor Alan is married to Jeanne, and they are blessed with two children – Sierra and Seth.