This month I planned a New Year’s Eve do-over. We also planned to celebrate my husband’s birthday — a month late. And making plans for 2022? Actual plans? For work and ministry and walking a 5K and reading more books than I did last year? Well, instead of happening in December, it all happened this month as well.
This month has felt like a second chance.
If I’m honest, January always feels like a second chance, as I find myself limping to the last days of December, exhausted and burned out. I scroll past all the prompts for reflection and sigh at another round-up of the best of the past twelve months, and I wonder why I can’t ever get it together. (Seriously, this is nothing new for me. I’ve written about it so many times I offer this collection of essays on the theme!)
But last year’s end was especially disappointing, as my family got sick right after Christmas and spent days in bed — the days I’d planned for decluttering, organizing, and goal-setting. I’d set aside time between Christmas and New Year’s to finalize my business plans for 2022, to declutter my kitchen cabinets and make a healthy meal plan for my family, to start a new book club, and to finish the room makeover we started for my oldest daughter back in October.
Instead, we watched a lot of movies and slept on pretty much every soft surface in our house. We ate a lot of popcorn and drank a lot of Gatorade, and yes, we went through a few boxes of Kleenex. (I’m not saying popcorn has any medicinal properties, by the way. We just like it.) And every day that passed, I reminded myself that it was okay — we would get a second chance.
I promised my family we would make our traditional apple cake and celebrate my husband’s birthday once we felt better.
I planned a New Year’s Eve party do-over with the friends we’d planned to spend that evening with (who were also sick).
And I looked desperately for blank spaces on my calendar to squeeze in the planning and organizing I’d hoped to complete last month.
January is a second chance.
Something about a second chance, when I really think about it and look at it head on, is breathtaking. It’s almost overwhelming how grateful I am for a second (or third or twenty-third or I’ve-lost-count) chance. And I’m not just talking about a day to prep a few meals, organize a few cabinets, or fill out a content calendar or to-do list.
Those things are great, but the second chances that fill me with wonder and move me to on-my-knees gratitude are the ones we get from God Himself.
Our God is a God of second chances. He’s the One who gave do-overs to Adam and Eve, Moses, David, Jonah, Peter, Paul, and so many more. He’s the One who urges us to give one another second chances by forgiving one another, and most importantly, He’s the One who took the punishment for our sins so we can spend eternity with Him — the ultimate second chance!
When we’ve messed up or missed the mark . . .
When we’ve intentionally chosen our way over His way . . .
When we’ve put our wants over anyone else’s needs . . .
When we’ve forgotten what matters, to us or to anyone else . . .
God says, “It’s not too late. Your life isn’t over. I will forgive you. You can start again.” And He does it again and again and again. He gives us another chance with every ounce of forgiveness, never forcing us to wait for the next Monday or the first of the month or the turn of a calendar page.
If you’re afraid that you’ve missed your chance, that you’ve messed up too much, that you’ve wandered too far, that you’ve waited too long, know that God will never give up on you. He is here to give you another chance. Though the weeks and seasons and years come to an end, His mercies never do.
Take heart. Our God is a God of second chances.
Yet I call this to mind, and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish, for his mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:21-23 (CSB)