I came away from the service feeling as if I let people down. The message seemed to fall flat. I knew I could have done better but now I had to live with the results. It was a combination of poor preparation, a touch of nervousness and lack of experience that contributed to the experience.
I was a senior in high school. My pastor gave me the opportunity to deliver a monthly sermonette. He knew I was wrestling with a call to ministry. The sermonettes gave me the platform to see if I had the gift of preaching. I think it was supposed to be about five minutes long but it went closer to fifteen minutes.
When we sat down to evaluate it, Rev. Brooks said something that has stuck with me over the years. He said, “We all have bad days. The good news is that you can turn that around the next time you get up there to preach.” Looking back on it now, he couldn’t have been more right. It’s a truth that transcends all of life.
We all make mistakes. We all miss opportunities. Yet, we don’t have to let those failures define us. We can take the next occasion and turn it around. We can build on that poor performance and do better with the second chance. We can take the lessons we learned and improve upon what we did before.
All we need is someone who believes in us and will give us the opportunity. I had that. Over the years I did get better. That one poor outing didn’t define me. So it is with your life too. In Psalm 139 David tells us that God knows all about us. He knows our strengths. He knows our weaknesses. He loves us none-the-less.
That’s why Jesus came. He was, and still is, the king of second chances. He met a woman caught up in an adulterous relationship. He forgave her and told her she could change and do better. She left with a renewed sense of hope because someone believed in her. Her life would never be the same.
He met a man named Zaccheaus. Jesus convinced him he didn’t have to continue on the path he was on. Like the classic Dicken’s character, Ebeneezer Scrooge, Zaccheaus learned first hand about the power of forgiveness. The day they met, he made a commitment to become a better man.
Don’t let your past define you. We have a God who believes in second chances. The Apostle Paul tells us that in Christ you are a new creation. The old has died and you have been reborn. If you have been living with regret, it’s time to grab the opportunity and start over. Let today truly be the first day of the rest of your life. Invite Jesus along. He’ll show you the way.
The Rev. Cal Lord is pastor of Central Baptist Church in Westerly.
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