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Do you remember what it felt like to be thirteen years old? I do. Everything was such a challenge then. I struggled with self-image, self-confidence, and popularity—and I made a lot of mistakes. My poor mother and father must have had the courage of the saints to put up with me. I remember that my mother set up an appointment with me to talk with the chaplain of our army-post church about my troubles. I told him that I didn’t understand why it was that no matter how many times I messed something up, it seemed that I always got a second chance. He thought second chances were good. I did not. In my child-like way of viewing everything as black or white, I felt that I had to get everything perfectly right on the first try or I would have irrevocably failed.

I took that notion well into adulthood. In fact, it wasn’t until recently that I have come to deeply appreciate having second chances. I’ve discussed this with some of my friends and many agree. For some reason that we can’t seem to identify, we agree that giving a second chance to someone is a good thing but we don’t believe that we deserve them ourselves.

Jesus is the ultimate second chance.

But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 1 John 1:9 (NLT)

I think that the concept of a second chance is one of the murky reflections of God’s kingdom that we see in our earthly lives as a distorted image. Our lives here in the world always seem to me to be trying hard to imitate heaven, even in the secular environment. Songs continually cry out for someone to “save me,” “rescue me,” or “set me free.” Hollywood pundits often speak of America’s “love of the come-from-behind story.” We embrace the rehabilitated, and root for the underdog. All of these, though, are principles that Jesus taught to His apostles, and continues to teach to disciples today. In our imperfect and fallen world, we constantly try to imitate our heavenly Father without even knowing why we do so—just like our children imitate us. We love to give second chances; we love to see people take advantage of them for the good.

Once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! Ephesians 5:8

I came back to Christ four years ago, and it has taken every bit of that time to learn that I truly have God’s awesome gift of the most significant second chance of all. We all do. Everyone who comes to Jesus Christ, on hands and knees, begging for His blood to wash them clean, is eligible. Do you struggle with the idea that you truly have a second chance at doing this earthly living well? Do you have guilt constantly rising up from the past? Do you struggle with perfectionism—the idea that if you don’t get it right the first time, you’ve lost the opportunity to do so? I beg you to pray in Jesus’s name for the ability to know that salvation is indeed yours, and that you need fret no more. His peace will set you free.

Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace. Romans 6:14