Walking our Faith: Why God loves our second chances
Walking our Faith
The young man who adopted Russell was so excited to add him to his family that he drove from Portland, Oregon, to Breckenridge rather than have Russell travel alone on a series of transports. When the young man landed at my front door, he greeted me, but his eyes were already on Russell, and he spent all of 10 minutes getting acquainted before excitedly putting Russell into his car so that he could begin the journey back to Portland.
For the record, Russell is a 5-year-old Newfoundland dog I had fostered for a month before he was adopted.
Russell‘s new home in Portland was very different than the home he had in Breckenridge. Instead of dirt roads and homes hidden by towering pines and silent star-filled nights, he lived in a high-rise and walked on busy sidewalks to the sounds of city traffic. Russell lasted about one week in his new home and unfortunately his new dad made the difficult decision to return him to the rescue because Russell was having a difficult time adjusting.
Russell has some unpredictable behavioral traits, which meant he might have bounced around further. So I was happy to give Russell a stable place to land before that happened. Surprisingly, I found that on his second stay in my home, I fell in love, and I am glad that he is here. Russell is now called Buddy because a friend said a dog’s name should reflect what you want him to be.
Buddy’s return got me thinking about how important it is that we have second chances in life. Buddy needed a second chance to find his forever home. Many of the dogs that come into rescue organizations have been bounced around two or three or even four times before they find a place where they can spend the rest of their days in safety and security and, most of all, love.
In our own lives, we sometimes find ourselves in need of a second chance due to mistakes we’ve made or as a result of events outside of our control. Most of the time, it’s a combination of bad judgement and bad luck.
The thing is, no matter how well we plan our lives, no matter how hard we study in school or how hard we work or hard we love, sometimes things happen that take our best laid plans and turn them upside down and leave us in unexpected places wondering if we will ever be able to put the pieces back together or if we will ever feel whole again.
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus talks about a shepherd who has 100 sheep, and one of them gets lost in the wilderness. Jesus describes how the good shepherd will leave the 99 sheep to go in search of the one who is lost. When he finds the sheep, “he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray. In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly that one of [his] little ones be lost.” (Matthew 18:12-14)
At different points, we may find ourselves being a good shepherd to a child or to a friend, and at other times we may find ourselves as the lost sheep who is found and redeemed and given a second chance by God, by family, by our community.
There may even be moments when we feel we have not been given the second chance we needed. Sometimes for very good reasons, that second chance was not given to us, and maybe that’s exactly when we finally shed our old ways and discover our strength to begin anew.
The importance of the parable of the lost sheep is to know that whether we are given a second chance by those we have come to depend upon, we can rely on the inexhaustible love of God, which never waivers or turns us away and which is always searching for us.
I have received many second chances in my life. Some undeserved. And other times, when the second chance was not possible, I found a new beginning from the ashes of burned bridges. But even in the depths of my desolation, the smallest ember of hope was the knowledge that I am loved by God even when I cannot love myself.
This is the gift God offers everyone, no matter what shameful secrets our hearts hide from the world. God knows them and loves us still. Turn your face to God, open your heart, speak with him, and allow yourself to be loved. This is the only second chance you’ll ever need: God loves you, no matter what. Don’t give up. God is with you and for you.
Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson’s column “Walking our Faith” publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Anderson is the author of 10 novels and nonfiction books on faith. She has lived in Breckenridge since 2016. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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