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Friday, February 4, 2011

I call "do-overs"!

1 Count yourself lucky, how happy you must be— you get a fresh start,
      your slate's wiped clean. 2 Count yourself lucky—God holds nothing against you and you're holding nothing back from him.
(Psalm 32:1-2)

When I was a child, one of the things we would do when playing a game at recess was call for "do-overs" if we did not perform as well as we hoped in some playground event.  We would hope to improve our outcomes by getting another chance to it again.  We would sometimes come up against another who would say that there are no "do-overs" and we'd just have to live with the outcome we'd achieved.  Well, I am relieved to know that God is not a God who refuses to allow "do-overs"!

There are times in life when we so desperately need to have a fresh start - we need the slate wiped clean - so that we might "begin again".  The goal of "beginning again" is that we might see a different outcome.  A pastor friend can often be heard saying, "If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got."  He's a wise man!  You cannot expect to repeat things you have failed in and see better outcomes if you always approach the failure with the same attitude, actions, or aptitude.  

With God's help, we can face life's "failures" with a different attitude.  Those that have known me for a while have heard me say many times that attitude determines our altitude.  It is an aeronautical saying - wherever the nose of the plane is facing determines the altitude the plane will assume.  If the nose is level, the plane flies level.  If the nose is pointed upward, it climbs to new heights.  Conversely, pointing the nose downward brings the plane to new "lows" that may not be the safest flying conditions!

He is also alongside to help us embrace new actions - not repeating the same actions that brought us to the place of failure the first time.  To many who have "tried and tried again", this statement seems unbelievable and way to simplistic.  Yet, it is true - we have a God who is quite aware of each step that brought us to the point of failure and he stands ready to help us be aware of those steps so that we don't repeat them.  We may not fully embrace his reminders to not "mis-step" along the way, but he is there, nonetheless.  It is still a matter of us choosing to make the most of each "do-over" God gives by embracing the help he provides along the way.

Sometimes we have failures because we simply lack the aptitude to do what it is we have ventured into.  There are times when we can "learn" the skill we need to succeed in that venture - there are others when we simply need to let it go.  If we are able to learn the skill, we usually see better outcomes the next time around.  For example, burn the first piece of toast and you will likely not leave the toaster unattended the second time around.  You need to develop an aptitude for making toast!  If we simply believed that toast was supposed to be a black, charred wafer of wheat that we gag down with a little jam to cut the taste of charcoal, we'd never really learn to enjoy toast as it was meant to be enjoyed.  

If we approach time with God as a burnt piece of toast that we gag down with something that makes it "taste a little better", then we will likely not enjoy spending time with God.  "Do-overs" are a gift from God.  We simply ask for them - we call that repentance.  In turn, he grants us the opportunities to "do-over" what brought us to the point of repentance in the first place.  That does not mean that we "do-over" the same things - but that we learn from the experience, embrace the grace we are given to face similar challenges in the future, and then trust God that we will listen carefully to his "coaching" along the way.  In turn, we are blessed.

Perhaps you are in a place where you are longing for a "do-over" in your life.  We all find ourselves there at one point or another.  We need some adjustment in our attitude, crave to pursue new actions, or simply know that we need to learn from the experience we have just walked through.  God stands ready to answer that prayer.  He is the God of "do-overs"!  He holds nothing against us when we hold nothing back from him!