Beginnings are great! They are fresh and new with something to look forward to around every corner. There is something about the 1st time of anything. It creates a memory like none other. But there is something even more special about starting again. When everything seems to go wrong and you think that nothing will ever be right…then you get a do-over. Those moments are life changing. You get a break you don’t deserve or things just sort of come full circle and you find yourself back at the beginning.
Yea, beginnings are great but second chances are awesome! I’ve had more than my fair share of second chances…way more than I ever deserved. The greatest was the one God gave me as a 14-year-old hypocrite. I was the perfect preacher’s kid at church on Sunday, but would cuss you like a sailor at the bus stop on Monday. I wasn’t a devil-worshiper, drug addict and wasn’t invited to enough parties to make that scene, but I wasn’t living a Godly life either. Let’s just say if God will spew the luke-warm out of His mouth, when it came to me, He was spitting for distance. My life as a secret double agent “Christian” would have continued without a hitch had it not been for those righteous, holy, Spirit-filled, praying parents that kept getting in the way. My dad was not content to let me go off to school every day where I could escape to a world that was devoid of “religion.” No, he had to start a school in the basement of the church, next door to my house, where I could hear about God every minute.
Those first few months of ninth grade were like a steel cage match every morning. Out of pure fear that he would embarrass me even more than making me wear that uniform in public, I would relent and head next door to memorize Scripture, pray and worship in chapel…all things that should never happen in school. As I was exposed to God’s Word and surrounded by Godly examples of what a disciple of Christ should look like, the Holy Spirit began to draw me to a place where I couldn’t be duplicitous. A place where God met me in an altar and I was exposed. I remember thinking that everyone in that service knew why I was there and what I was dealing with and what God was doing in my life. Funny thing is that I didn’t care, because I got a do-over. A second chance. A new beginning.
The challenge with new beginnings are that you still have the consequences of the first beginning with which to reckon. I have many regrets about the first three years spent in that town. The friends I let see how phony Christianity was, the people I hurt trying to overcome my own inferiority, the adults I had disappointed because the pastor’s son was supposed to be the example for their children, all consequences that the last three years of living right didn’t seem to overcome. God has given me many opportunities since that time to redeem a torn reputation and witness. His redemption is beyond what we deserve or can imagine.
Many years have passed since then. As I prepare to enter the pulpit this Easter Sunday, communicating the Scriptures to those who need a do-over, I think of the resurrecting power of the One who gives us that second chance and know that Jesus has an abundance of grace to go around. It will definitely be a day to celebrate!