Second Chances

View from the Deck

This afternoon I sat on the back deck. I listened to part of Billy Graham’s sermon given in 1981 at a “Campaign” in Calgary. He spoke about Jonah and how G-d gave him a second chance. He also said that sometimes there just isn’t another opportunity. Take it or leave it. He used the example of one of the thieves on a cross beside Jesus. That man choose to accept Jesus. There would never be another opportunity to do so. I was good preaching! Old time preaching.

I thought about my second chance. I am so grateful to G-D for His persistent calling. Growing up in the church, I may have thought I was okay. The year was early 1962. I was in 8th grade, and my first chance came. I was at Brown Military Academy. I had a wonderful “religion” teacher, Mr. Kitchen. One weekend, along with many of my classmates, he took us to a Christian youth retreat. As I’ve reflected on Mr. Kitchen’s faith, I’m sure he was evangelical, maybe Pentecostal evangelical. The camp was great. The preaching was a lot different from the Episcopal church sermons. I was drawn in. On Sunday toward the close of the camp, there was a final sermon.

I remember not one word of what was said during the evangelistic sermon. What I remember, as if it was today–what I can picture in my min–is the alter call. It is so vivid: the preacher saying to close our eyes. I closing my eyes. Then he asked for a show of hands. I remember wanting raise my had, but didn’t. I peaked to see others. Then the preacher called for those with hands raised to come forward. I wanted to go, but didn’t. I peaked to see others go.

In Billy Graham’s sermon, he said some of the words that were probably from a song. They were about looking back and remembering a time when we’d been called and not responded. About how we might long to be able to go back to that time and respond.

How many times, I can’t count, have I said, “if only.” If I’d not walked but run to that alter that very moment, how my life might have change then, and not have waited and wandered aimlessly so may years. But I can’t relive those moments so long ago.

My second chance came, and Spirit of G-D enabled me to embrace it. I can’t go back to the first chance. So I move forward. For past is forgiven, forgotten. Today is nearly over. There’s a new day tomorrow to live, not try to relive the past. It’s a new day to make good choices, make good moves. Or at least better ones. May our Heavenly Father work His way in and through me in those choices, in those moves.

May He work in you, too, His Will and His Way.

Priestly Blessing
Priestly Blessing

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