2020-10-27 - Another Chance
Richard and I were recently watching my alma mater playing football. I do not know a lot about college football, so i had a lot of questions. It was a nerve-wracking game.They were ahead near the end of the last quarter, so I assumed we were pretty much assured a victory. But alas, when the clock reached 34 seconds, Richard informed me that it was not really over yet, that the visitors had another chance to score. I was confused, since we were eight points ahead, and even I knew that normally, a touchdown + an extra point still would leave us with a one-point win. Imagine my surprise to find out about convrersions, in which they could try for two points instead of one. They would have yet another chance, and to me, it seemed like their chances were never-ending!
We humans often need and sometimes receive another chance when we have messed things up in our lives. Over a year ago, President Trump signed the First Step Act into law, allowing over 3,000 prisoners to be released, 90% of whom were African-Americans, and individual releases continue, including last week. Some of those had written the President letters, letters that touched his heart., and he personally met with a good number of them. Some had been sentenced due to President Clinton's 1994 Crime Bill under which many non-violent crimes garnered long sentences.
One dear lady penned some moving words to President Trump, who had been working on the program for awhile, along with some African-American leaders. The prisoner wrote:
"I am very remorseful for the part I played in the crime, and if I could do it all again I certainly would do things differently.....
I ask for this chance to contribute with my experience to help others to learn from their mistakes, just as I have from my own mistakes. "
Of course, those of us who have worked in the Criminal Justice system for many years know, realistically, that many prisoners will do often try about anything to get out (Who can blame them for wanting out?), including faking attitudes or even illnesses. But like her fellow released inmates, this lady had DEMONSTRATED her sincerity via her exemplary behavior during her 23 yeaars in prison.
Even though most people reading this have not committed felonies, we all could learn from this woman's experience and attitude.
For we ALL make our own respective kinds of mistakes, we all sometimes need forgiveness, but we all also should be sincerely remorseful when we ask God (or our fellow man) for forgiveness. In addition, we need to ask God to help us learn from our mistakes, and here is perhaps the most scary part, because it requires being open and vulnerable: We also need to ask God to USE us to help others in the same situations(s) which we have faced. That is part of the deal. And another challlenging part of being forgiven is that we must forgive others who do harm to us - whether intentionally or not. Does this mean things have to be normal with that person, as they were before? Absolutly not. God doesn't condone continuing abuse, for isntance. But it does mean being intentional about loving others - in action, if not feeling. This forgiveness will play out differently for each of us, and we can ask the Holy Spirit to guide us in this. But forgive, we MUST. See the words that Matthew scribed, recorded in Matthew 16 (NIV)
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
May we all be thankful when we receive another chance, may we grant those to others when God leads us to that, and may we support those who are living out their second or even third chances.
*Is there something for which you need to ask God for another chance?
*Is there someone to whom you need to GIVE another chance?
All scripture references are from the New International Version (NIV) unless otherwise noted.