Second Chances

Have you ever made a bad choice and regretted that decision?  Have you ever gone through rough times and wondered if there was a light at the end of the tunnel or were you feeling all alone and left in the dark instead?  Your mind starts whirling about with questions as to why this is happening and you try to find a solution as how to go on.  You encounter doubt and fear and soon you are caught up in a haze of despair.  How will it end or worse yet, will it ever end?


Now move ahead a bit and ask yourself if you remember getting a second chance.  Did you act on that second chance or did you go back to your old ways once the storm subsided?  Did you learn anything or did you once again fail to take something away from all of these struggles?  Was it the storm that scared you or was it the fear of having to change that made you hold your breath or question if indeed you could get through this?  Were you willing to surrender and say you cannot handle this on your own?  Did you question if this was too powerful for anyone to handle?


Believe me when I say that I have been there and in some ways I am going through this yet again.  However, this time I am applying a new tactic and sailing into the storm directly, but with confidence and not fear.  I have a second chance and I am going to make the most of it.  I do not want to repeat this lesson, but rather face it head on with the knowledge that I am being guided through the storm and not running away full steam ahead on my own accord.


I have failed so many times before because I refused help.  I arrogantly thought that I could do this on my own; that I had the knowledge to get myself through this or I possessed the strength that was needed to get through this.  Boy was I wrong and yes, I was very clueless until a door opened and help was staring me right in the face.


I believe strongly in second chances and I believe that we are given them for a reason.  We are often full of too much pride and we are far too stubborn to change our ways.  We are like the Israelites when they were held in bondage in Egypt.  Night after night and day after day, they cried out for help – for deliverance.  God heard their pleas and he sent a deliverer to them.  He sent Moses who led them out of Egypt and into the desert and soon they were headed for the Promised Land.  God demonstrated his love for them by doing this.  He sent signs and Pharaoh released the Israelites.  They packed their belongings and headed to the unknown land.  God parted the Red Sea and helped them cross over to the other side.  However, instead of being thankful and obedient, they became ungrateful and rebellious.  They were stubborn and set in their own ways.  They complained about their surroundings and their lack of food.  God answered them and provided food, but he was angered by their behavior and punished them for that behavior.  That generation would die off and not see the Promised Land.  There were consequences for their actions.  There will always be consequences for our actions.


Sound familiar?  We are so caught up in ourselves and our desires that we fail to see a good thing when it is presented to us.  God is there for us people, but we have to open our eyes and see what is right in front of us first!  We have to believe that he is in control and that whatever comes our way, he is always there beside us and helping us get through it.  However, the key is to listen to him and what he says.  We need to be obedient.  That is not so easy for many of us to do.  Our very nature is selfish and arrogant and we wrap it up in a cocoon of stubbornness.  We refuse to listen to good advice and we feel we deserve the best and when the best does not come or happen, we complain and gripe (loudly might I add) about this.  We feel we have all of the answers and we, ourselves, can solve any problem that comes along.  A bit delusional now, aren’t we?


Let’s have a reality check shall we?  We all know that this life brings many problems, complications, and disasters.  Some feel that they are being punished when this happens, but I feel we are being tested instead.  A recent sermon stated that there are consequences for our poor decisions.  This is true.  Every decision that we make whether good or bad creates a consequence.  We cannot go on hurting others and not expect that we will suffer that same fate at some point in our life.  We cause some of our afflictions from these actions.  The thing to remember is that we can get through this when we acknowledge that God is in control of our lives and that he is the navigator during our storms.  We just need to have faith in him.


So what is the answer to this problem?  Psalms 55 has the answer to this very question. In Psalms 55:22 it reads as follows: “Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.”  When we offer all of our burdens to God, he can get us through these storms.  He is teaching us a lesson from all of this.  Maybe we need to learn tolerance or patience or how to let go of our anger.  Maybe we need to see who we really are and why we need to make a change.  Whatever the lesson is we need to let go of our reluctance and hold onto the teacher’s hand and follow him.  Having God in our lives does not eliminate our struggles, but rather makes the struggle endurable and helps us get to the other side with a better understanding or a better perspective.  Sometimes these struggles seem to be never-ending.  Or sometimes it feels like a slew of struggles are hitting us all at once.  Whichever one you are experiencing, just remember he is with you and asking you to trust in him.  Yes, we have free will to make a decision, but we need to make a wise decision and not a poor one.  That decision can determine the severity of that struggle or how long it may last.


I have gone through many struggles during the past twenty-five years of my life.  Frankly, most of my struggles are the result of my refusing to take good advice and my refusal to make good choices.  My health has suffered greatly as a result.  I had to take a long hard look at myself and see that I made this mess that I am in.  Sure, not all of it was my fault, but most of it was.  I had to let go of my stubbornness and my pride and give it to God.  I had to admit I had no control over my life and that I was not the one to make the decisions for how my life thrived or failed to thrive.  When I gave up my pride and my need to be in control and I gave it all to him, I began to see a different picture and I began to live a new and freer life.  I trusted him and I trusted my life with him in control.


I now can see a difference this had made in my life.  Am I still struggling with this issue?  You betcha, but I also can now see where I went wrong.  In the past I failed to put all of my faith into his hands.  I said I did, but at the sign of trouble I searched for answers from everyone but him. This time I chose to put my faith in God fully.  I did not look to anyone else for answers or wisdom.  I chose only God.  My suggestion today is this:  Make a change and put your faith in God.  Do not continually make bad choices and pay the price for those choices.  Assess the situation and then let him at his time, resolve the issues at hand.  I kept going round after round with this struggle and through this entire time, he kept telling me to trust in him, but I did not listen.  I decided this time I need to listen and not only listen, but follow his good advice.  He wants us to come to him and when we do, he wants to take care of us and provide for us.  What a gift he gives us!  Be willing and open to receiving that gift.


Are you tired of going it all alone?  Are you tired of suffering through these bad circumstances time and time again?  Are you ready to make a change and stand behind it this time?  Then call on him, ask him into your life, ask for his guidance during this struggle and be willing to take his advice.


We all go through bad times, but the difference is when we decide to let him in and let him lead us.  All problems will be resolved, but we have to be willing to believe that they will and we need to be patient that is will end on his timetable and not ours.


Just remember, if you are given a second chance it is your decision whether you take that opportunity by letting him in so that you can make a change for the better; or you can remain where you are – set in your old ways and desperately trying to survive on your own instinct and falling short every time as a result.  It’s your choice, but please choose wisely.

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