This year Steve and I have gotten to experience the grandeur of fall TWICE. During the last 2 weeks of September, we drove through parts of five states in New England as the leaves were beginning to turn their brilliant colors. We returned to Alabama just as its trees were starting to show off. Now, the colors are at their peak, and we are having fall all over again (albeit this time without lobster rolls).
Opportunities for Do-Overs are rare. Some might argue they are impossible. I won't disagree. Unless you ride that rollercoaster AGAIN or give a restaurant that disappointed (or amazed) you the first time another chance, it's hard to have an exact repeat of an event that is in the past. I remember once when I looked in the mirror in a hair salon after the stylist was finished and hated the results. She graciously took me back to the shampoo sink and started from scratch. The second results were much better, so I suppose that was a do-over. I've also tossed entire cakes into the trash when the finished product was a disaster -- such as the time when I accidentally put in salt rather than sugar or another time when I was baking in Ecuador and forgot to factor in the effects of a high altitude. I gathered my ingredients the second time and tried again with better outcomes.
If only life gave us more do-overs. Haven't we all fervently wished we could relive our children's childhood years, hoping we'd do a better job the next time? And what about those words we spoke in anger or without weighing the consequences? Oh my goodness, how we wish that words could be put back into our mouths without escaping at the wrong time and in the wrong way.
When I was going through the giant stack of mail waiting when we returned from our long trip to New England, I found a folder from a beloved cousin containing a copy of an article I'd written and her handwritten note saying how much she had enjoyed reading it. I was pretty sure she didn't pay attention to Facebook messages. I looked in my phone contacts to see if I had a cell number for her so I could send a quick text, but I only had her home phone number. I was busy. Sadly too busy to pick up the phone and say a simple "Thank you." Last week, that cousin had a sudden stroke and a brain bleed. I am so very sorry I didn't take those few minutes to pick up the phone when I still could. Oh, for a Do-Over.
Praise God, I found several verses in the Bible about having a second chance. These have encouraged me. Maybe they will speak to you, too.
Matthew 18:21-22 -- Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
Jonah 2:1-3 -- From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. He said:
“In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry. You hurled me into the depths, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me." (We all know how God rescued Jonah and gave him a second chance to obey.)
Lamentations 3: 21-23 -- Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
2 Peter 3:9 -- The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
I am resolved once again to live in such a way that I make the very best of the FIRST chances I'm given. Are you with me?