Our God is a God of Second Chances
This year, my oldest daughter, Makaylan, began kindergarten. I’ve known for a year this day was coming, but I did not anticipate how deeply it would affect both her and me.
I spent two weeks preparing her for this big event. (And my husband spent even longer preparing me.) We talked about her new teacher, met with her teacher, picked out her uniform, bought school supplies, and got psyched up for her kindergarten debut.
Finally, the day came.
I got up extra early, got dressed, fixed her lunch, and greeted her with a smile and “excitement” for her new adventure. THEN…it happened.
She lost it. She refused to put on her clothes. She screamed so loud that she woke up her sister. And, worst of all, she asked me not to make her go.
So, there I was, trying to hold it together AND make her obey. After ten minutes of tears, I knew I couldn’t handle it. I couldn’t be the one who dropped her off. My mommy’s heart wanted nothing more than to tell her she didn’t have to go. I wanted to give in to her tears, so I outsourced the drop-off to my husband. Through tears, hers and mine, I watched the van door close and them drive away. Then, I fell apart.
But…that wasn’t the end of the story. (Praise God!) Before I get to the redemptive event of that day, I want us to first look at the book of Lamentations.
We are very familiar with Lamentations 3:21-24, but we often miss the richness of those verses because we fail to look at the first half of the book.
Lamentations describes the Israelites’ affliction because of their disobedience to God. The first two and a half chapters paint a very grim picture of destruction, death, and the Lord’s discipline. He allowed Judah’s enemies to attack and destroy them. He allowed the temple to be desecrated and Jerusalem to be destroyed. God allowed them to mourn and groan inwardly while chaos was churning outwardly. Jeremiah summed up part of this feeling when he said, “I am the man who has seen affliction under the rod of God’s wrath. He has driven me away and forced me to walk in darkness instead of light. Yes, He repeatedly turns His hand against me all day long.” (Lam. 3:1-3)
Jeremiah is broken over Judah’s sin. It is this brokenness that leads him to eventually write: “Yet I call this to mind, and therefore have hope: Because of the LORD’s faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness! I say: The LORD is my portion, therefore I will put my hope in Him.” (Lam 3:21-24)
We can learn a few things from the totality of these passages.
First, God will not allow us to get away with doing things our own way. It is tempting to read scriptures like these and to forget the loving, compassionate nature of our God (Lam. 3:32). He does not delight in disciplining us, but He does it because He loves us (Lam. 3:33; Heb. 12:7-11).
He wants us to live a life of obedience so we can experience a life of blessings. In my flesh, I did not want to make Makaylan go to school that day. It grieved this mother’s heart to see her begging me to keep her home. But, I knew I was doing what was best for her. I knew that I cannot, at this time in my life, give her the educational instruction she needs. She couldn’t have it her way. (And, I couldn’t have it my way.)
This may be where some of you are right now. You have wandered away from the Lord’s instruction, and He is not allowing you to get away with it. If you want peace in your life and in your relationship with God, then you need to repent, turn around, and start walking a different direction. If you continue to insist on doing things your way, you will continue to be miserable and ineffective in the Kingdom.
Second, God desires our humble submission. Lamentations 3:29 gives us a vivid picture of submission, which is born out of humility. Jeremiah knew that, in order for the Israelites to experience the fullness of God’s mercy, grace, and forgiveness, they had to submit themselves under God’s discipline.
Submission is letting go of complete control over your life and putting yourself under the protection of another.
In a very real sense, it is choosing to allow someone else to “call the shots” in your life. Ladies, as much as we would like to think, we do not always know what is best for us. Are you pushing against the Lord’s direction in your life? Is He allowing hardships (or maybe suffering) to come your way so you would turn back to Him? If so, are you ready to humbly submit to Him? You and I will not experience freedom and peace until we humble ourselves, submit our way to the Lord, and then choose to do life His way.
Finally, God delights in pouring out His mercy anew every morning. One of the most hope-inspiring verses is Lamentations 3:22-23. This verse means that no matter how far you have fallen, how long you have run, or how deep you have dug, God is waiting and willing to pour out His mercy on you. In the midst of the Israelites’ sin-filled journey, God reminded Jeremiah of His mercy, love, and faithfulness. These reminders caused hope to swell in the heart of this prophet, and gave him energy and courage to continue fighting for his people.
Dear one, God’s mercy is new for you as well. Will you receive it?
All you have to do is stop running, stop fighting, and stop trying to do life on your own. You can experience a joy and peace you have not experienced in a long while. You do not have to live your life in constant turmoil. God is waiting to pour out His mercy on you. Reach out and take it.
The day after Makaylan’s terrible first day, I got to experience one of her best days. She got up on her own, got dressed, and came into my room excited for the day. She was no longer fearful of what lay ahead, but she was confident and thrilled about her new adventure. She leapt out the door with a hug and smile.
The Lord also worked in me that day. He showed me that He prepared her for this day. He also reminded me that my job, as her mother, was to steward her well. Ultimately, she is not mine, but she is the Lord’s. He made her, and He has a plan for her. For now, that plan includes school away from home.
Over the last two weeks, I’ve seen God do what only He can do. It’s still difficult to kiss her goodbye each morning, but I know God is producing something in her (and me) that will bring Him the most glory. Until that is revealed, I will just rejoice and rest in His faithful, merciful arms.