My life is full of second chances. Some are huge, life-changing events. But most are small and often imperceptible.
As a boy, I had a paper route delivering the weekly Lynnwood Enterprise. Delivering one day, I threw the paper toward the porch, but it bounced off into the garden. I was just going to leave it. I didn’t care. The Seattle Times paper boy watched this and chewed me out. I was galvanized. He impressed on me that I had a responsibility toward my subscribers, and I needed to give them the best service possible. Chastised, I vowed to do what he said. And it has colored my work ethic since then. This was a second chance that changed my life.
I’ve learned that our Lord is a God of second chances. David should have been killed for his sins with Bathsheba and her husband, Uriah. Peter denied Jesus. Paul persecuted the Christians. The woman that washed Jesus’ feet with her tears had “lived a sinful life.” The thief on the cross was a criminal. The Philippian jailer most probably was guilty of torture. All had committed awful sins with potentially disastrous results (Luke 8:36-50). All needed forgiveness. God offered them a second chance and they were wise enough to take advantage of it.
Some did not. Cain could have shown some remorse. Noah’s contemporaries were offered the opportunity to be saved. Pharoah was given multiple opportunities to release the Hebrews. God repeatedly reached out to the Israelites. Jesus reached out to the leaders of Jesus’ day. All were offered second chances. None were wise enough take advantage of them.
Throughout my life, I was not wise enough to take advantage of many second chances I was offered. My mother and I had a poor relationship. It had to do with religious differences, and there was a lot of hurt and pain. As my mother got older and more forgetful (I became a little boy in her eyes), she forgot most of the religious issues. While I did a little to reach out to her during this time, I can’t say that I took full advantage of this second chance. I could have done more but I wasn’t wise enough to appreciate the opportunity given me.
I was later offered a second chance with my Dad when he needed to go into assisted care. Our relationship was distant prior to that. But I made an effort to visit him almost every day that I was in town. We would sit and talk. I would pump him about growing up in North Carolina, his time in the Navy, meeting Mom, our time in the Canal Zone and his work. When he had trouble walking, I would massage his feet and legs. He would see me coming, and he would stretch out his legs in anticipation. He was not subtle. As I would begin, he would relax, move his head back and roll his eyes. That is how I knew that I was doing it right, and he was enjoying it. I didn’t even mind the smelly socks. It was the connection that was important. I did a better job of taking advantage of this second chance. Fortunately, God keeps reaching out to us over and over again, until our second chances go into triple digits.
Most second chances are small ones. I usually don’t recognize them for what they are, but they are all around me. Many come from God with alternate ways to deal with a situation. Some are random. My favorite come from those that love me. For example, Carol says, “Bob, can you come here?”I mutter quietly, “I’m busy right now.”Carol says, “What, honey?” I pause, and quickly reflect on all the second chances I’ve had, and say, “I’ll be right there!How can I help you?” Carol has given me thousands of second chances. God has given tens of thousands more.