Best of Daily Reflections: Do You Believe in Second Chances?
Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out.
From time to time my granddaughter Megan breaks out singing, “God is a God of second chances.” I don’t know if it’s the Veggie Tales version or the Carlos Whittaker version or some other version, but it doesn’t make any difference who sings it. It’s true.
Acts 3 describes an afternoon just a few weeks past Easter when Peter and John were going to the temple at the hour of prayer. A lame man begged them for money. Peter answered, “I don’t have any money, but I’ll give you what I’ve got; in the name of Jesus stand up and walk.”
Peter took the man by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. The man started break dancing first-century-style right there in the temple. The people were overcome by wonder and amazement.
Strangely it was like Good Friday had never happened. Things were almost exactly like they had been when Jesus was with them healing and teaching—except Peter was doing the healing. It was like Jesus was living inside of Peter.
And he was! Peter told them two things emphatically,
- It’s not me! I didn’t heal this lame man. He was healed by the name of Jesus.
- You rejected this man Jesus. You killed him. But now you’ve been given a second chance.
Haunted by his own heartbreaking failure of Jesus, Peter gives the Jews the benefit of the doubt and says, “You acted through ignorance.” Isn’t that what Jesus said from the cross? “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Forgiveness is a second chance, so Peter says, “Repent. Turn toward God.”
Here’s how Frederick Buechner puts it,
The worst isn't the last thing about the world. It's the next to the last thing. The last thing is the best. It's the power from on high that comes down into the world, that wells up from the rock-bottom worst of the world like a hidden spring. Can you believe it? The last, best thing is the laughing deep in the hearts of the saints, sometimes our hearts even. Yes. You are terribly loved and forgiven. Yes. You are healed. All is well.
A lot of life is lived in the middle of one kind of trouble or another. From time to time, some of us find ourselves in the very bowels of misery. Sometimes we bring the misery on ourselves. Sometimes we are wounded by shrapnel exploding out of someone else’s life. Thank God life doesn’t have to end in misery. In the end, we can be healed. All will be well. God is a God of second chances.
When Peter saw it, he addressed the people, "You Israelites, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected in the presence of Pilate, though he had decided to release him. But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. And by faith in his name, his name itself has made this man strong, whom you see and know; and the faith that is through Jesus has given him this perfect health in the presence of all of you.
"And now, friends, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. In this way God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, that his Messiah would suffer. Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out."
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Where in your life has God given you a chance to begin again? How have you responded? Is there someone in your life who needs a second chance from you? What should you do next?
PRAYER: Merciful God, first of all, thank you for so graciously providing me a way out of the dead ends I have gotten myself into. And secondly, strengthen me to seize my second chance and to learn and to grow into your likeness. Amen.