The Back Page
By Wendy Squires
Here we are at the start of a new year. And with the renewing of the calendar comes the often asked question: what are your “New Year's Resolutions”? Invariably we look inward and outward, assessing what we do and who we are. We reflect and consider what changes we can incorporate that could make ourselves or the world around us better. The challenge lies in the fact that typically those monumental changes last only until the next aggressive driver cuts us off or the next tray of pastries is offered our direction. And when our resolutions fall short how do we feel? Like failures!
I am so pleased that this is not how our attempts to follow in Christ's footsteps is looked at by God. When we look to the Bible for examples of God's people, even the disciples, we are faced with an array of people that did not always “get it right” the first time. And yet they were far from failures and God used them in mighty ways.
From the Old Testament there are several examples of powerful people of God who needed second chances. When Moses learned of his heritage he took matters into his own hands and murdered and Egyptian for killing a Hebrew man. He had to flee to the desert when he was found out. God gave him a second chance and He was able to use him to deliver the Israelites out of Egypt. Jonah was given a second chance and was successful in delivering God's message to Nineveh. And of course there is King David. As a youngster, I remember thinking of David as the shepherd boy protecting his sheep, or using five smooth stones to the kill the giant Goliath as he relied on God's strength and protection. It wasn't until I was much older that I read about King David and Bathsheba. How far he fell from grace. Yet when he listened to the prophet Nathan and was truly repentant he was able to move forward and be the great king from the line that Jesus would descend.
And in the New Testament of the Bible there are the recordings of the lives of Saul/Paul. He was a Pharisee, zealous in his persecution of Christians until he had an encounter with Christ and became Paul. Paul was used so powerfully by God to spread the Gospel and be a leader amongst the disciples. And Peter. He resolved to follow and defend Jesus. He cut off the ear of the High Priest's servant when they came to arrest Christ. Yet when the chips were, did he follow through on his resolution? No, not once but three times he denied he knew Christ. And then the cock crowed. What a failure he must have felt. And in Christ's response to Peter on the beach following His resurrection we have a glimpse of how much love, kindness, and grace Christ wants to share with each one of us when we need that second, third, or more chance. Not once, not twice, but three times He asked Peter if he loved Him. Not only did Peter find forgiveness but also encouragment to be the champion for Christ we see him become.
So on the first of January, as I contemplate on changes for the coming year, I plan to do things differently. Firstly, I plan to begin with prayer, asking God for direction, wisdom, and strength to make the changes that will draw me closer to Him. And, if I stumble in my attempt I will pick myself up, dust myself off, ask for God's grace, and be grateful to Him for a second chance.
Welcome to 2018 and all that God has in store for each one of us.