I posted this article on Thursday, but it has come to my attention that not all of my subscribers received the email. So if you are receiving it for a second time, please forgive me. I wanted to be sure everyone got the opportunity to read it!
This blog is all about discovering God’s goodness in everyday life. Karen Wingate is a fellow author whose blog, “Grace on Parade” has the same purpose as mine. In this guest blog post she shares a story from her college days about how God rescued her from a bad situation and brought something really good out of it – my favorite kind of story! Enjoy!
When I attended the University of Arizona, colleges required students to take two credits of physical education for graduation. For me, High School P.E. was little more than a personal nightmare. I’m so old, I come from the generation where we had to wear those dopey little blue bloomers. My large high school offered P.E. electives, but my poor vision limited my choices. The classes I took turned into disasters every time.
How refreshing to discover the U of A had an abundance of choices, stuff I could do. My first credit, an aerobics class, was taught by an understanding but tough instructor. When I ran the mile in less than seven minutes, my entire class cheered. Victory, sweet victory at last. I could do this athletic thing!
The next semester, I chose a swimming course. I loved to swim but never learned how to swim well. My idea of swimming was to churn my arms in the shallow end and keep my head above water. I signed up for the advanced beginner class; after all, I wasn’t a beginner, was I? That class was for those who had never set a tootsie inside a swimming pool.
The first day was a particularly cold January day in Arizona, the state where people laugh at the thought of indoor swimming pools. I quickly realized I was in over my head – literally. I couldn’t see the instructor even with my glasses which I couldn’t wear in the pool. The teacher had no heart, no mercy, and no patience. He dumped his students in the deep end and started to teach us a complex stroke. He yelled at those who weren’t moving like he wanted us to move. That meant me. Several classmates tried to help me, but he barked at them to pay attention.
I trudged back to the locker room, tears mingling with the waters of defeat from the swimming pool. In God’s perfect timing I bumped into my aerobics instruction from the previous semester.
“Karen, what is the matter?” she asked.
In broken sobs, I explained what happened. I admit, I was a total wreck. She didn’t even know about my past history with sports. Everybody told me how important physical activity was – how could I do it if no one let me? And how would I graduate if I didn’t get that P.E. credit?
“We can fix this.” Mrs. Sorenson’s confident words stopped my tears as if she had turned off a water spigot. By the next Monday, she had me enrolled in a beginning beginner class with an enthusiastic, compassionate instructor. The class was half full of foreign students from Saudi Arabia who were more nervous about getting into the pool than I was!
Here’s the next God-part. Mrs. Sorenson didn’t know the instructor’s assistant was a senior, dual majoring in physical education and special education. The instructor partnered me with the assistant who at times let me put my hands on her body so I could feel the movement of the different strokes.
I learned to swim – and enjoy swimming – like I never had before. I even got the inflated lung award at the end of the semester for staying under water the longest while swimming the freestyle!
Giving His children a second chance is nothing new to God. The apostle Peter found his second chance on the Sea of Galilee. After refusing to acknowledge that he was acquainted with Jesus during Jesus’ trial, Peter felt terrible. In fact, the Bible says he wept bitterly. I can only imagine the hours of agony and regret he must have experienced on Friday and Saturday after Jesus died. Even after Christ rose from the dead, would He want to have anything to do with Peter? Talk about a loyal friend – not!
Imagine the beautiful scene a couple of weeks later. After the man on the shore told them to put their fishing nets on the other side of the boat, Peter and his buddies caught a miraculous amount of fish. Realizing it was the risen Lord, Peter left the others to do the clean-up work and waded toward Jesus. The Bible doesn’t record the conversation between the two in that private moment, but later on Jesus reinstated Peter and gave him a key position of leadership in the newly established church. Despite Peter’s major mess-up, Jesus gave him a second chance, a huge second chance.
Do you still suffer from guilt, fear, defeat, or shame from your past? Just like with Peter, Jesus wants to do mighty things with your life even though you’ve messed up or others have messed with you.
Think of those around you who have made mistakes and who have hurt you. Maybe they need to experience God’s second-chance ministry through you. Who needs to hear you say, “We can fix this”?
Go do it! Whether you’ve messed up or you’ve messed with others, be a second-chance Christian. You can do it because your God is a God of second chances.
Karen Wingate www.graceonparade.com is a freelance writer and women’s ministry facilitator. For years, she wrote Vacation Bible School curriculum for Standard Publishing and has written for a number of national magazines including Decision, Guideposts, The Upper Room, and The Lookout. She is currently working on a set of historical fiction novels and a book about how God gave her miraculously improved eyesight after being born legally blind. Karen’s blog at “Grace on Parade” shares how Christ followers can reflect the grace of Christ to a hurting world. You can find more of her blog posts at www.graceonparade.com.