Recently I was given a second chance at life, and a fear that I had long borne was swallowed up in the sea of God’s mercy, never to resurface again. Although that’s not what I plan to write about today, maybe another day I would, but today, what I really desire is to share with you the power and beauty of a second chance.
What does a second chance look like? And more importantly, what do you do with it?
Fortunately for us, there are always second chances to pursue our dreams, rebuild relationships and correct past blunders… Sometimes we believe this but most times we do not believe this for ourselves. In our thinking we say, “Maybe for that guy but not for me. I’ve gone too far to make a “U” turn”.
But honestly it’s never too late. I’m sure you can relate with this quite well. Like when an apology is long overdue that you now feel is too late, or you’ve borrowed something for far too long, returning it is no longer an option. You’ve lived and had children together with your boy/girl friend that marriage now looks unnecessary. Too old to return to school to get that degree you’ve always wanted. Whatever the case, there are always opportunities for a second chance.
Now here is what a second chance looks like.
(In his book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye Joshua Harris shares his encounter with the Lord Jesus in the seventh chapter titled, “A Cleansed Past: The Room”).
In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I found myself in the room. There were no distinguishing features except for the one wall covered with small index card files. They were like the ones in libraries that list titles by author or subject in alphabetical order. But these files, which stretched from floor to ceiling and seemingly endless in either direction, had very different headings. As I drew near the wall of files, the first to catch my attention was one that read “Girls I Have Liked.” I opened it and began flipping through the cards. I quickly shut it, shocked to realize that I recognized the names written on each one. And then without being told, I knew exactly where I was. This lifeless room with its small files was a crude catalog system for my life. Here were written the actions of my every moment, big and small, in a detail my memory couldn’t match. A sense of wonder and curiosity, coupled with horror,
stirred within me as I began randomly opening files and exploring their content. Some brought joy and sweet memories; others a sense of shame and regret so intense that I would look over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching. A file named “Friends” was next to one marked “Friends I Have Betrayed.” The titles ranged from the mundane to the outright weird. “Books I Have Read0”, “Lies I Have Told”, “Comfort I Have Given”, “Jokes I Have Laughed At”.
Some were almost hilarious in their exactness: “Things I’ve Yelled At My Brothers”. Others I couldn’t laugh at: “Things I Have Done In My Anger”, “Things I Have Muttered Under My Breath At My Parents.” I never ceased to be surprised by the contents. Often there were many more cards than expected. Sometimes fewer than I hoped. I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the life I had lived. Could it be possible that I had the time in my years to fill each of these thousands or even millions of cards? But each card confirmed this truth. Each was written in my own handwriting, each signed with my signature. When I pulled out the file marked “TV Shows I Have Watched”, I realized the files grew to contain their contents.
The cards were packed tightly, and yet after two or three yards, I hadn’t found the end of the file. I shut it, shamed, not so much by the quality of shows but more by the vast time I knew that file represented. When I came to a file marked “Lustful Thoughts”, I felt a chill run through my body. I pulled the file out only an inch, not willing to test its size, and drew out a card. I shuddered at its detailed content. I felt sick to think that such a moment had been recorded. An almost animal rage broke in me.
One thought dominated my mind: No one must ever see these cards! No one must ever see this room! I have to destroy them! In an insane frenzy I yanked the file out. Its size didn’t matter now. I had to empty it and burn the cards…
But as I took it at one end and began pounding it on the floor, I could not dislodge a single card. I became desperate and pulled out a card, only to find it as strong as steel when I tried to tear it. Defeated and utterly helpless, I returned the file to its slot. Leaning my forehead against the wall, I let out a long, self-pitying sigh.
And then I saw it. The title bore “People I Have Shared The Gospel With”. The handle was brighter than those around it, newer, almost unused. I pulled on its handle and a small box not more than three inches long fell into my hands. I could count the cards it contained on one hand. And then the tears came. I began to weep, sobs so deep that they hurt. They started in my stomach and shook through me. I fell on my knees and cried. I cried out of shame, from the overwhelming shame of it all. The rows of file shelves swirled in my tear-filled eyes. No one must ever, ever know of this room. I must lock it up and hide the key. But then as I pushed away the tears, I saw Him.
No, please not Him. Not here. Oh, anyone but Jesus. I watched helplessly as He began to open the files and read the cards. I couldn’t bear to watch His response. And in the moments I could bring myself to look at His face, I saw a sorrow deeper than my own. He seemed to intuitively go to the worst boxes. Why did He have to read every one? Finally He turned and looked at me from across the room. He looked at me with pity in His eyes. But this was a pity that didn’t anger me. I dropped my head, covered my face with my hands and began to cry again. He walked over and put His arm around me. He could have said so many things but He didn’t say a word. He just cried with me. Then He got up and walked back to the wall of files. Starting at one end of the room, He took out a file and, one by one, began to sign His name over mine on each card. “No!” I shouted rushing to Him. All I could find to say was “No, no” as I pulled the card from Him…
His name shouldn’t be on these cards. But there it was, written in red so rich, so dark, and so alive. The name of Jesus covered mine. It was written with His blood. He gently took the card back, He smiled a sad smile and began to sign the cards. I don’t think I’ll ever understand how He did it so quickly, but the next instant it seemed I heard Him close the last file and walk back to my side. He placed His hand on my shoulder and said, “It is finished”.
I stood up, and He led me out of the room. There was no lock on its door. There were still cards to be written.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16.
This is my prayer for you, that you find faith in the Lord Jesus today for a second chance. God bless you.