Second chance is a favorite term preachers use to articulate courage and confidence in the present, while at the same time pointing to a forgiving God who focuses attention to the future with optimism and hope. The message of the prophet Ezekiel to the people of Israel is still relevant for today, and clearly bears repeating. Listen to the good prophet speaking for God, “for I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, turn then, and live” (Ezekiel 18:32; 33:9)! Moreover, the term second chance is best understood when it is seen in light of continuum, as opposed to numerical application. Jesus uses this style to address his disciples on the question of ‘forgiveness’, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18:22).
Second chance understands that we will make mistakes and that God is not this angry judge ready to pounce on us whenever we do. It is an invitation to be courageous, walk the faith, and live in the zone of holy uncertainty. You can trust God always to be at the end of the line waiting to catch you in case you fall, and if you do, to restore your dignity.
Second chance is all about believing that surrender isn’t an option, and we should not feel embarrassed to start over. For many, the guilt of pride gets in the way of acknowledging the need to pursue second chance as integral to life’s complex journey. The willingness to access second chance is a redemptive action that could be best described as humbling, penitential and transformational. Humbling in terms of exercising the gift of self-awareness; it takes a lot of courage to acknowledge our faults and weaknesses. And even more to seek forgiveness and amendment of life; do realize things could be worse and be mindful that some of life’s most inspired learnings and insights have come from the crucible of mistakes. For me, failure is the ‘holy grail’ to edification and new learning. The love of Jesus through patience and perseverance gives the opportunity to go at it again, even prosper and do well by God.
Second chance is equally appropriate to individuals who may have, through circumstances and/or family commitment, postponed or suppressed an age long innate desire. There are so many persons I have spoken with over the years who lament the fact of an unfulfilled dream, especially to a ‘higher vocation’ they hope one day to pursue. This compelling desire has lingered in the deep recess of the soul. Here is the good news, the opportunity may be now to follow that dream leaving the details of life to the marvelous mystical working of the Holy Spirit. Ours is a call to respond in submission, obedience and faith, trusting in the One who bids us come. Jesus is able to assemble in a seamless manner the myriad complex details of our life. Second chance is our best hope at making headway toward a better future. And, the gospel is all about the God we love and serve excelling in second chance.