On New Year’s Day, 1929, Georgia Tech played the University of California in the Rose Bowl. During the game, the running back fumbles the ball. Everyone scatters for the football, and Roy Riegals sees it and immediately picks it up. Ciaos ensues and he ends up making a mad dash 65 yards to the goal line. The only problem, he was going the wrong way! One of his teammates, Benny Lom, tackles him just before he scored for the opposing team. He landed two feet from the goal line. He said, “If I could have dug a hole in that turf I would have covered my head and not appeared again.”
Wrong way Roy reminds me of a lot of people. They’re going the wrong way, but they don’t even realize it. Jonah was someone who went the wrong way. God told him to preach to the city of Nineveh. He instead took a ship and went in the opposite direction.
The city of Nineveh was not like Jonah’s home town. Many horror stories had been told of the people of Nineveh, and Jonah was not interested in being a part of any future ones. Also, Nineveh and Jonah’s town had been in past wars, so to Jonah the idea of even seeing the people of Nineveh let alone caring about them was far from his mind.
He finds a ship and on his was there a storm arises and he is thrown into the sea. God sends a whale to swallow him and he spent three days and nights in that fish. I wonder how he must have smelled? Can you imagine his thoughts during this trip? He might have been thinking like Roy Riegals, “Why did I go the wrong way?”
During halftime Roy Riegals was found in the corner of the locker room with his head down. His coach went up to him and said, “Roy, get up and go on back; the game is only half over.” He got up, played great and ended up blocking a punt.
What is awesome about this story is how God provided a second chance for Jonah. God caused the great fish to place Jonah back on dry ground. He got up and followed the Lord’s request. That’s what this story is about, second chances. Stop looking at your mistakes, look to the cross. As long as you have breath in your lungs, you can turn your life around. You can start over.