Saturday, December 1, 2012

Taking Chances

I watched her face contort into this weird, smiling grimace. She was distraught and it was literally taking all she had to form the words. "I don't want to change! I did it before and I was miserable, I don't see myself ever getting better doing it your way." The tears had formed in my eyes as well. Man! I could completely relate to this girl and what she was going through. It doesn't really matter what the television show was about or the context of what that lovely, over made-up beauty was suffering from. The epiphany that surrounded me at that moment was simple and ultimately universal.

We all have our suitcase full of crap, don't we? Whether we struggle from an eating disorder, alcoholism, an overbearing mother, a contentious sibling, critical spirits, etc., it's all the same. We are fallen, and (to mock an old commercial) we can't get up - at least not without some help. It doesn't matter what we struggle with, most days we have the same reaction as the girl I saw sitting on that sound stage. We fight the healing we need because we cannot imagine being happy any other way than the way we have made for ourselves. So very tragic and short sighted of us....

We look at our path, we check out the forecast of our lives as we see them, and we try to foretell the outcome. We attempt to see ahead from one scenario to the next and build a plan and a path to walk based on what we know. It isn't reality. It isn't reliable. It isn't possible because we don't have any way to know what comes next. Only the Lord knows those things, and He's not ready to share them with us. Our only job is to trust Him when He shows up and tells us we must change, that it's time to lay down our old ways and move closer to what He wants for us. He isn't asking us to devise the plan, He already has that in the bag. Besides, if we could do it without Him, what is the point of a Savior? He is asking us to lay down our own agenda and follow Him to greater, more glorious lives, whether we think we deserve it or not. We seem to have this weird tally system in place and we assume that God is frustrated with us. We tell Him we certainly don't deserve a second chance.

I have heard the saying that our God is the "God of Second Chances." That's wrong. God is not limited in what He is willing to dole out. In Matthew 18:21-35 Jesus tells us He isn't the God of Second Chances, He is the God of Another Chance! God delights in seeing us come back to Him, over and over and over again. He never turns us Prodigals away because we deserve to be punished. He doesn't waste His lectures with us when He can see a repentant heart and He doesn't hold it against us when He knows, in His omniscience, that we will indeed turn away again. God simply opens His arms wide, wraps His love around us and whispers, "Welcome home, Child!"

The next time I am tempted to cry out to God that I cannot possibly do it His way, that changing who I am is impossible and too painful to bear, or that I simply don't want to change, I hope I can be reminded of her face. Her twisted smile reminded me that I am not capable of that kind of miracle - Only God has that power. I am reminded that I am not being asked to do it alone, just to lay back in His arms and trust that He will bring me through it in perfection only He could arrange.

God wants me to forget all the chances He has given me in the past. God asks that I don't count the chance I am on right now. He knows He will grant me others. God asks only that I fall deeply into His embrace, bury my face in His love and breathe deeply of His forgiveness once again. "Welcome home," I hear Him say in a whisper to my heart, "Let's celebrate!"