"... committed to a lifestyle of fresh starts and new beginnings"

    Recently, we finished the book that we have been using in class for the past weeks that talked about leadership in the church and how important it is to keep the community of leaders healthy. I was assigned to report a few chapters weekly, and it was an insightful study each time I prepared for it. 

    One of the last chapters I studied talked about restoration, and while it is arguing for a specific context, I could not help but also reflect and apply the principle to some aspects of my life. Paul David Tripp, who was the author of the book, discussed the restorative heart of God in this chapter through the book of Jonah. Tripp zoomed in on God's unfailing character - on how he continues to provide new beginnings despite the rebellious actions of his servant. 

    As known from the countless story books about this prophet, Jonah was called to share the message to Nineveh, but instead, he went to the other side of the known world. He meant to escape from the presence of the Lord (as if he could) and continued to deliberately disobey God. The Lord could have easily abandoned him and canceled his plans for him, but each time, He, in His great power and overflowing patience pursued Jonah and continued to sustain Him to accomplish His task. 

    After a whole plot of escaping and chasing, Jonah 3 says “... the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time.” As Tripp describes it, "Restoration is about — fresh starts and new beginnings." God's mercy kept meeting Jonah in his foolishness and wandering and gave him an underserved start-over. 

    Jonah was able to preach to the people in Ninevah as the Lord commanded, but the book ended with him being angry and still resisting. Even so, the Lord continues to deal with Him with forbearing love. God's goal of restoration was not merely to bring Jonah back to do the task but to rescue him from his wayward heart and restore him to Himself. And so God continued to show mercy and gentleness 'til the end despite the repeated offenses done by Jonah. 

    Reflecting on this this week made me ponder more intently about the Jonah-ness in me. Clearly, the love God displayed to this stubborn servant is the same as what He pours on me every day. It is a love that does not cease to forgive. A love that does not keep a record of wrongs. A love that does not forsake despite the unfaithfulness. A love that does not neglect but seeks to restore. 

    AND it is also the same love that I am called to give. While I am fully aware of how great of a failure I am in reflecting on the Lord's restorative heart (hagbong pa sa tanang hagbong), this chapter greatly encouraged me to remember how I am loved and forgiven to strive to do the same. 

    It is hard for sure, knowing how my depravity proudly exhibits the pride dominating in my heart and my ungracious nature which is manifested in the way that I deal with others' sins against me but even so, just like with Jonah, I trust that the Lord will be patient and abounding in mercy and committed to provide fresh starts as I strive to obey. For every failed attempt, I will cling to the grace that is sufficient to create new beginnings. Here's to beginning again and again. 

Good night!