You never get a second chance to make a first impression.
That’s how the saying goes.
It may be true on a human level, but I am so grateful that – on an eternal level – I am not doomed to be known by initial mistakes and missteps. I’ve been given a second chance.
There have been many times in my day to day life when I’ve had opportunities to make decisions of importance. Times when I’ve had to choose whether to act in humility or pride, selfishness or self-sacrifice, speak a sharp word or a merciful one. It so often boils down to attitude. How petty and immature am I feeling in that moment? Am I willing to “die” to myself or am I prepared to try and win at all costs?
I wish I could say that I’ve made the right choice in every one of those moments. I wish I could say that I’ve made the right choice in most of those moments. At least I can say I’ve made the right choice in some of those moments. Probably a minority of them, though, if I’m being honest.
The list of my shortcomings and screw-ups is staggering. Sharp words spoken to my wife or children when patience was called for. Prideful posturing when a contrite spirit was needed. Lazy avoidance when dedication and endurance were required. A surrender to temptation when a hunger for purity was crucial. A faithless fear when confidence in the providence of God was necessary.
By all accounting of fairness, considering the weight of my failure, I have more than removed myself from access to an eternity of anything but separation from a holy God. I have blown it time and time again, leaving no right to expect salvation.
But here’s where mercy steps in. Here’s where the promises of a loving God far exceed the reality of my self-inflicted situation. Here’s where what I deserve is covered by the grace of a Savior who put Himself in my place and gave me a second chance (and third and fourth and…). My shame in the reality of how I’ve blown it is enveloped in the exquisite breath of the Creator who made me and is making me again.
I’m in a place in life right now where I am seeing how I’ve been led by a desire for comfort rather than a hunger for Godliness. I’ve missed out on so much of God’s desire to provide for me and sustain me. That has translated into a hollowness and a dryness and a lack of Spiritual fruit that, while possibly not apparent on the surface, has effected me deeply. I don’t want to stay in this place of distance from Christ. I want to be like the tree in Psalm 1 that is planted by streams of water, yielding fruit in season.
The reality is that the fallout of my imperfections and failures may continue on in life even when I’ve been forgiven by God and covered in His mercy. Consequences don’t easily disappear in this temporal world. I’m so grateful, though, that God can give me strength to seek His righteousness and walk in His ways.
Dear Heavenly Father, You are holy. You are perfect and without fault. You are also merciful to mess-ups like me who don’t measure up to Your righteousness. You see me at my worst, my weakest, my most corrupt, and You still choose to love me. I can’t understand a love like that. A love that knows no limit. Thank You for saving me and redeeming me and making it possible for me to be in Your presence. Your grace is confounding and complete and I couldn’t hope to live without it. Thank you, Jesus, for giving me a second chance.