Just a couple of weeks ago, on July 20, I heard a piece on the radio from NPR’s "This I Believe." The segment I heard featured a man by the name of Dan Flanagan from Michigan. The portion of the interview that stood out was the following:
I don’t know why I came to the decision to become a loser, but I know I made the choice at a young age. Sometime in the middle of fourth grade, I stopped trying. By the time I was in seventh grade, I was your typical degenerate: lazy, rebellious, disrespectful. I had lost all social graces. I was terminally hip and fatally cool.
It wasn’t long after that I dropped out of school and continued my downward spiral. Hard physical labor was the consequence for the choices I made as an adolescent. At the age of 21, I was hopelessly lost, and using drugs as a way to deal with the fact that I was illiterate and stuck in a dead-end job carrying roof shingles up a ladder all day.
But now I believe in do-overs, in the chance to do it all again. And I believe that do-overs can be made at any point in your life, if you have the right motivation….
I was particularly gripped by the line that I highlighted above: "But now I believe in do-overs, in the chance to do it all again." Does that line ever resonate with me! When I reflect upon God’s redemptive work through Jesus on the cross, I always come away with such an appreciation in the opportunity for a "do-over." Forgiven. Cleansed. Washed. A chance to come at life again.
Far too many of us live with a sort of resignation toward life. "Oh well." Yes, I realize that there are consequences for poor choices and bad behavior. Our blunders, failures, and mistakes can and do impact other people.
Yet, in Christ, there really is the opportunity to begin a new day. I can wake up in the morning, take a deep breath, and step out into the world with the assurance that I am loved by the God of the "do-over."
This means a great deal to me. I have found it far too easy to get bogged down in my own failures. You can make your own list. My list would have to include:
- What I wish I had done differently when my children were still living at home.
- The immaturity and insensitivity I often displayed in our marriage, those early years in particular.
- Blunders I made in my ministry with various churches.
- Ways I wish I had handled various situations with people differently.
- Regrets I have over the way I have used my time in the past.
- Opportunities that I failed to see or grasp.
How easy it would be to get bogged down in these kinds of things! How easy it would be to rehearse these failures again and again! Far better for me to focus on the God who continues to work through me, regardless.
I love the line uttered by Joseph to his brothers in the very last chapter of Genesis. After being sold into slavery by them, after serving time in prison, and after being separated from his family for so long, Joseph says:
Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children. (Genesis 50:19-21)
In spite of it all, God had worked through him and would continue to work.
As you begin a new week or new day, what is most encouraging to you as you think about the God of the "do-over"?