If you wish to connect with another believer then I encourage you to find a prayer partner or two. No other expression of our faith does more to bind two hearts together in purpose than the activity of prayer. Praying two weeks ago with a friend, I heard him open his intercession by saying some words that have stuck with me. I’m unsure if they originally belonged to him but, if they came from another source, I had never heard them paired together before. When my friend whispered this appeal to God, I immediately realized that he had framed up in words one of the most appealing aspects of God to those of us who know what it means to fail. Here’s how he opened his prayer as we sat across the table from each other:
“You are God. The God of lost causes and second chances…”
From Adam to Jacob, David to Hosea, from Peter to the Philippian jailer…God proves himself tenacious in His commitment to His own. I think that one of the most needful things in the 21st Century church is encouragement. I’m not talking about some hollow, mini pep-rally but, rather, some substantial, scriptural balm upon our sin-scorched, temptation-torn, guilt-girded, worry-worn souls. Nearly everything around us serves to tear away at our confidence in God and our hope of an outcome that brings Him glory and lends us satisfaction. When you add to the equation the reality that we are fallen sinners who have not yet reached perfection, it is highly possible to be fully redeemed while, at the same time, thoroughly discouraged. It helps to be reminded that the God of lost causes and second chances has loved you, chosen you, pursued you, captured you, forgiven you, welcomed you, indwelt you, pledged to guide you, protected you and will ultimately glorify you. Yes…you.
I rarely mention in this blog the degree to which I once qualified as a lost cause needing a second chance. Inwardly I spent most of my adolescent and young adult life full of bitterness, depression and wrath. That is not an overstatement; at times I was both homicidal and suicidal. I daily sought out drugs and alcohol to medicate the deadness of soul that tormented me. Interestingly enough, I held down a job and had a life full of friends and was typically thought of as an outgoing man, the life of the party. Inside I was crumbling toward a loss of sanity and filled with a darkness too deep to put into words. This is the type of person upon whom God set his mark. Drug rehab could not help me. counseling failed to bring lasting results. My parents, more than once, sought to help me but I chose to remain an entitled taker who would not listen to their counsel until finally I chose to pretend I had no parents. I was a thief, a liar, a criminal, arrogant, raging and full of deadly venom which was poisoning me. This is the type of person upon whom God set his love.
It wasn’t merely a second chance I needed. Jesus told me that I needed a second birth.
When God ambushed my soul on August 4, 1994 I promise you that I had no clue what was coming. If someone had told me the day before that God was coming for me I would have outrun Jonah and boarded a vessel for Get-away-from-Godville. What is so amazing is that this God of lost causes and second chances came to extricate me, not execute me. With no merit of my own to motivate, God took the grand initiative and set me free from sin and from darkness and…free from me. The lost cause was found. The second chance was sovereignly granted. I have never been the same.
Why do I tell you this today? For two reasons; the first is to remind you that, no matter what you have done, there is grace from God that abounds above your sin. You are not an eternally lost cause and I point you to the Merciful Savior who incinerated my chains of guilt more than seventeen years ago. I promise that if you turn to Him in brokenness that He will rise to your defense and deliverance. I promise you. The second reason I write is to encourage you never to give up on people, and to always be open to giving them a second chance. You may need to pray for them for decades if necessary…but don’t you ever give up on them. If they are regularly upon your heart it is likely that God is prompting you, in whatever way you are able, to be a vessel of mercy and grace to them. Do you protest that they seem to remain indifferent, hostile, arrogant and rebellious? You declare that they are a lost cause…
Wonderful. That makes them a perfect candidate for a second chance. Be there when it happens and they will always remember you as the one who never gave up on them.
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