It can be so easy for us to be upended when we muck something up even when we try not to do that. I think we have all been there and it’s clear that we start having it happen very early in our lives. I am not sure when your first time happened and I am not sure I recall the very first one for me, but I can point to a lengthy list over the course of my lifetime.
It can start with using a crayon or marker on the wall instead of the paper we were given or when we tell our first fib (a.k.a. lie) and get caught. Maybe it happens when we go farther on our bicycle than we knew we were allowed to go and mom, dad, or a neighbor sees us ten blocks from home.
It can come up when we were sure we had all the right textbooks at home to write that paper or study for an exam and then discover we didn’t…AGAIN! How many times did our mom or dad remind us about this very thing?
Sometimes it shows up when we make a promise with all the right intentions and then set it aside because we forget or because the promise isn’t convenient or someone or something of greater interest comes along.
How often do we want a second chance to do better? How often do we wish we could erase that moment when we faltered and messed up again?
There are some times when we cannot regain that opportunity for a “do over” even though we may receive forgiveness and grace. We can’t go back and stop at the stop sign we sailed through and resulted in an accident or a ticket. We can’t say “I love you” to the person we didn’t take time to see before they were called home to be with the Lord.
But because grace comes with refills as my writer friend, Lisa, recently wrote, we also often get a second chance.
Second chances are powerful and important to heed.
Consider one of many we see in scripture. Paul, the great persecutor turned true missionary of the gospel, is headed out on another missionary journey with Barnabas. The encouraging Barnabas wants to take John Mark along with them. He sees his potential and believes he will be an asset. But Paul is still miffed at John Mark because he left them in Pamphylia and didn’t continue on with them on another journey. Barnabas is none too happy about Paul’s response so these two separate and Barnabas heads off in one direction and Paul chooses Silas and goes off in another.
Now I know this is a New Testament story, but many of us could change the names and places and put some modern day believers in their places.
How blessed John Mark must have felt that Barnabas chose him over the esteemed Paul. After all, Barnabas and Paul had a pretty tight relationship. But Barnabas saw the possibilities in John Mark and gave him a second chance.
I wonder how any of us would respond in the same place.
But guess what happens as fruit of Barnabas’s decision?
By the time Paul writes his letters to the Colossians and Timothy, he commends John Mark (often just called Mark). Peter also makes mention of him in his first letter. And then the Gospel of Mark…yes, Mark wrote that!
Second chances are powerful indeed and we should never fail to take advantage of them.
Beyond this, most of us should not cease to express gratitude each day for how often the Lord has not given up on us and given us a second chance.
Our challenge is whether or not we allow Him to show us the possibility in someone else and like Barnabas, give someone a second chance.
I wonder what would have happened to Mark if Barnabas had not done so.