Published Saturday, April 5, 2008 in the Muncie Star Press.
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 co-workers, pay the deductible, schedule repair 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 might 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.
My stomach knots up whenever I see my mutilated car and know that I alone am to blame. Likewise, just when we're beginning to find peace in the process of confession and forgiveness, remorse can sucker punch us with shame. 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 weakness lies, 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 the 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 might not forgive us "70x7" 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 1,000th-time forgiveness policy?
I'm so 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 relentlessly forgiving our Father is should make us want to live obediently inside the circle of his best will for us every minute of every day. But it's comforting to know that when we do 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 ugly mistakes to God, and He turns our wreckage into something beautiful. It's a crazy policy when you think about it, but that's our Father: the extravagant giver of unmerited favor, the God of infinite chances to those who know and love him.
Linda Crow, of Muncie, is the mother of three teenagers and works in youth ministry. Visit her blog at www.2nd-cup-of-coffee.blogspot.com.