"Having a blog is like wandering around your house naked with the windows open; it's all very liberating until someone looks in the window. However, while being caught unawares is one thing, it is quite another to stroll up to the window and press your naked, flabby body against the coolness of the glass in a hideous form of vertical prostration for all the world to see..." These posts are the smudges that are left behind on the window.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

The God of Second Chances

Shane Hipps tells the story about when he lived Phoenix. In Phoenix people tend to have rocks instead of lawns due to the lack of water. One day at his new house, he notices that there are weeds starting to grow in amongst his rocks, so he goes out and starts pulling them. As he is doing so, a neighbour walks by, and asks why he is pulling out the wild flowers. Shane tells the neighbour that he isn't, he's pulling out weeds. The neighbour then explains to him that these aren't weeds but flowers that the pervious owner had planted, which create a wonderful garden each spring. 

This story is told in the context of love vs fear. The point he is trying to make is that sometimes we are so fearful that we are afraid to do anything, for fear of getting it wrong. We're afraid to pull the weed for fear that it is actually a flower, but we're also afraid to let it go in case it actually is a weed. He says that in love there is NO fear, not even fear of making a mistake. Why? Because God is the god of second chances. He then goes on to say;

"...Here is a most wonderful thing about God. When we live with a sincere heart, God responds a lot like the wildflowers in my front yard. If I had pulled all the wildflowers and missed their bloom, amazingly they would come back again next year. They would give me another chance. In the same way, if we act on our fears too quickly and miss the message God has for us, the good news is that God is in the business of bringing new opportunities all the time. God is persistent in the giving of good gifts. Even if we flinch from the open hand of grace, mistaking it as an immanent slap, we are not disqualified from that grace. Grace just keeps on coming, gently, subtly, consistently. That is good news.
If we let the buds grow and they were just weeds, no blossom - no problem. That is when we pull the weeds. No punishment. Just a little work. The lesson is one of acceptance and trust that God is not out to trick us, but to offer us more freedom and love than we could ever exhaust. 
God even wants to release us from our fear of misidentifying fear. 
This is the way grace works. If we accept it, it is ours to enjoy. If we miss it, it keeps coming back. It's a free gift endlessly offered. When we're ready, the blossom will be there for us to enjoy. So a posture of hope, anticipation, and readiness is appropriate,  not fear.
Whether we are confronted about some new idea about God, a new calling in life, a new relationship, or the end of something we love, we must let the words of Jesus resound in our hearts - 'Take courage, it is me. Do not be afraid'.
Sometimes the thing we fear the most is sent to free us."
After I had read that, i sat there pondering it for awhile. It then occurred to me that not only are we given a second chance when we've screwed things up, but sometimes, we ARE the second chance. Sometimes, when someone else screws up a relationship, we become the second chance. Sometimes, when a fellow Christian has screwed up an opportunity to promote the Kingdom of God, we become the second chance. In a way, this is very comforting. If I screw things up, as I often do, God will provide a second chance, either to that person and/or for me to make things right. 
I know I've screwed up a lot of things. I also know that I've been provided with a lot of second chances. Was it one for one? I can't say - maybe it was, but I just wasn't paying attention. The important thing is to not be paralyzed by fear or what-if's, but to move forward in a love that knows no fear. 

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