Brian and I are getting ready for a very special week: our grandson is coming for a sleepover! Well, let’s face it, he’ll be sleeping, but I don’t know if we will – and all you grandmas out there know what I mean. It is just different the second time around.
What is it with that? We used to be able to fall asleep and not worry about our kids. If they had a bad dream, rolled over, hiccupped, or coughed we were just fine. We knew when to check on them and when to let them sleep.
But now! Every little sound and we’re up checking on them. And the worst thing: no sound! It’s been quiet for five minutes – is he still breathing? Can I wait another minute? What if he’s not breathing – what if he managed to somehow wrap that tissue sized blanket around his head and can’t breathe through the almost sheer muslin? Go check on him! Now!
Seriously – it’s not that bad, and there are some parts of being a grandparent that are stress relieving. Sometimes I think of grandparenting as an opportunity for a “Do-Over”- an opportunity to make wiser decisions, to show the patience that has been developed over the years, and to play more. It’s a second chance to impact a life.
It comes at a bit of a price: we have to acknowledge that there were some things we didn’t do so well the first time around and are thankful to have a chance to redeem ourselves. I’ll be the first to admit that I have no idea how my boys grew into the men they are today except to say that God honored all my prayers to grow them up in him regardless of my failures.
This past week, a friend of mine and I had a rather lengthy discussion regarding second chances – and the fact that we hear so often that God is a God of second chances, even third, and fourth chances. And he is – but at what cost?
The cost to us is that we must own our sin, confess it, repent of it by turning fully away from it and turning fully to God, and then we start over. But, is that the total cost of a second chance?
What did it cost God to give us a second chance? What did it cost the Lord Jesus Christ?
Jesus, who was and is eternal God (John 1:1) set aside the glory of heaven, lived as a human in human flesh and humbled himself even to death on a cross – the most inhumane and the most lengthy form of murder ever devised by mankind and died so that we might have a second chance at life.
When Jesus, who was perfectly sinless, died, your sins and mine were imputed to him (God thought of our sin as belonging to Jesus). Our sins – every sin, past, present, and future – was put upon him on the cross. He was punished for our wickedness. Every. Single. Sin. He bore God’s wrath in our place.
This isn’t just about forgiveness of sin and second chances – this is about our legal standing before God! God is the Sovereign Judge of the universe, and when we, in faith, believe on Jesus, when we come to him and say, “I quit, I give up, I cannot make myself right with God on my own!” – then in that moment of believing faith, the gavel comes down and we are declared “Just”. – Not guilty. No condemnation.
As we exercise faith and accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord, then Christ’s perfect righteousness is imputed to us (God thinks of Jesus’s righteousness as belonging to us.)
This wonderful and marvelous exchange is accomplished at the cross of Jesus. The sins in our ledger are transferred to Jesus and the perfection in his ledger is transferred to us, and the vehicle for that transaction is faith.
I think it is too flippant to say, as I have often heard, that when we are justified it is just-as-if-I’d-never-sinned. That is incorrect and insufficient, because we have sinned! We have committed many sins! And they are not just wiped clean – they are pinned on Jesus and he endured the punishment for those sins. Yes, they are forgiven, but they are forgiven because the debt of sin has been paid.
Second chances? Oh yes – we have second chances – but we must not take them lightly. It isn’t like a mulligan in golf where you can pick up the ball and put it back where you started from – second chances in life are when you learn from your mistakes and commit to not make them again.
Second chances come with responsibility to do things better, to walk closer to God, to lean on him for wisdom and strength. Second chances come at a great cost – the cost of our sin, our mistake, our experience – and the cost of the precious blood of Jesus.
“ For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.” – Romans 5:17-19 NIV
God has given you an opportunity for a second chance at life – to lay down your life and take up your cross and follow Jesus. Will you?