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Monday, March 24, 2008

God of the Second Chance

Just as if I were starring in my own classic sitcom, I managed to back into my co-worker’s car in the parking lot last week. My gas tank cover hooked her fender, leaving her car with scratches and a nickel-sized hole and my gas tank cover twisted up like a soda can tab.

The only thing worse than the initial impact of the fender bender was the awkward moment of returning to the building to inform my co-worker, “I have some very bad news about your vehicle.”

And the consequences just kept rolling in. I had to tell my husband, face my other co-workers and re-live the incident every time I saw our vehicles.

Although I’ve always been a pretty conservative, prudent driver (read: grandma in a Camaro), I’m even more aware now that I’ve blown my one “get out of jail free” card--a first-time forgiveness insurance policy protecting me from a premium increase--and cannot afford another wreck. So every time I start my car I tell myself, “Whatever you do, don’t mess up.” That’s a lot of pressure!

Every unfortunate decision or sin has consequences. Not only should we confess to our Father, but we may also have to confess to the person we’ve wronged or to a third party who can hold us accountable in the future. Confession is humbling, but it’s the only way to start reparations.

And just like my stomach knotting up whenever I see my mutilated car and know there is no one to blame but me, remorse often mugs us with a sucker punch. Remorse snatches the peace that we were just beginning to find in the process of confession, forgiveness and accountability. When overwhelming regret condemns us again and again, we should remind ourselves that what’s past is past and that we’ve learned where our weaknesses lie, where our strength lies (in Him), and how to avoid that kind of mess in the future.

Sometimes long after the event passes, we harbor fear that we’ll trip up again. We certainly don’t want to re-live that pain--or worse--wear out God’s forgiveness policy. But God does not want us to live in constant fear of anything, including sin.

Insurance companies may not forgive us “70 x 7” because they’re not all that into holiness, grace, mercy, etc.--but God is.

It is often said that “God is the God of the second chance.” Isn’t it wonderful to know that He also has a second, third, 43rd and 1000th-time forgiveness policy?

And aren’t you glad that, “Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Knowing how forgiving our Father is should make us want to live inside the circle of His best will for us. But it’s comforting to know that when we mangle our lives, He doesn’t demand that we pay a perpetual debt. Jesus paid that price once for all, and the same mercies that are brand new every morning also endure forever. We bring our wreckages to Him, and He turns ashes into beauty. It’s a crazy policy when you think about it, but that’s our God: the extravagant giver of unmerited favor, the God of infinite chances to those who know and love Him.

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Blogger Mocha with Linda said...

Awesome word, my friend! Thanks for allowing God to use your difficult experience to bless others.

March 24, 2008 at 7:30 AM  
Blogger Melanie said...

Isn't it great that He never makes our premiums go up! We don't have to pay premiums!!

March 24, 2008 at 8:49 AM  
Blogger Angie said...

What a way for me to begin my Monday! This was perfect! You have encouraged me more than you'll know!

March 24, 2008 at 9:18 AM  
Blogger Cindy Swanson said...

Good stuff, Linda! I am really glad that God is more than just the God of second chances.

And I love that Lamentations of my favorites.

March 24, 2008 at 10:12 AM  
Blogger Mary Lou said...

Oh, am I ever so thankful that He is the God of more than just second chances. How we need to remember to give others more than a second chance. Mary Lou at dlowran1(at)comcast(dot)net

March 24, 2008 at 10:20 AM  
Blogger Alicia said...

This was amazing. Thank you!

March 24, 2008 at 11:31 AM  
Blogger Denise said...

Really nice, thank you.

March 24, 2008 at 11:58 AM  
Anonymous carol ~ i throw like a girl said...

Well said and a much needed reminder!


March 24, 2008 at 12:30 PM  
Blogger windycindy said...

Happy Monday! You have helped me again with your words. I so appreciate it. Believe it or not, your words were a very needed blessing today! Thanks, Cindi

March 24, 2008 at 1:19 PM  
Blogger The Preacher's Wife said...

You are so right, Linda...

God would never make it in the insurance business would He?

How I praise Him for longsuffering and that all the loopholes are always in our favor...

Great post!


March 24, 2008 at 1:33 PM  
OpenID darnelle said...

The crazy thing about grace is that you don't even qualify for it UNTIL you wipe out! Problem is, after a "wipe out" we are usually too ashamed to go to Him to get a portion of that forgiveness and grace. But, I am learning to trust that He simply means what He says about freely giving His grace. Praise God that he doesn't keep records of offense like we do (and the insurance companies)!

I am sorry for your accident, Linda. I know how yucky that kind of thing feels. But your comparison is so right on. I'm thinking that I need to read something about His grace first thing every day 'cause this is an awesome way to START a day! Thank you.

(I commented this morning, but it never showed up. I apologize if it shows up twice - eventually)

March 24, 2008 at 3:19 PM  
Blogger Jthemilker said...

I feel for ya... I too have a car in the shop this week. I ran over a tree limb. Thank the Lord that I have insurance, that's for sure!

March 24, 2008 at 7:46 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

Oh girl, my heart goes out to you! But your analogy was awesome, thanks!


March 26, 2008 at 2:06 PM  

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