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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Second chances

by Nelson Roth
Highway 53 is a road that I travel frequently here in South Mississippi. It’s a narrow road with dangerous ditches in many places. A few years ago the forty mile long highway that runs from Lyman to Poplarville was resurfaced and widened. That was a good thing; however, with the road improvement the ditches were made deeper and there is no shoulder in most places.

Life’s journey is a lot like traveling Highway 53 - a road with ditches on either side. Pam and I have been writing about being centered in life this month. The being centered in this analogy would be knowing my lane on the road and keeping my car between the lines.

Along Highway 53, among the beauty of pine tree forests, ponds, and awesome skylines are a number of crosses in the ditches where someone tragically ended their life. Someone because of a distraction or maybe the temptation to drive too fast died an early death. A sad result in several of those tragedies was innocent people becoming victims of the accident.

Some accidents on Highway 53 have not been fatal. I’ve driven past tow trucks pulling cars out of the ditch numerous times. I’ve also caught myself daydreaming, inattentive and seconds away from rear end collision.

Spiritually, life’s road doesn’t have to end fatally. But, if we get in a ditch because of distractions or temptations like “the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (I John 2:16) – God gives second chances! I’ve been in the ditch myself a number of times for all three reasons that John writes about. Several times it’s been nearly fatal, but God in His love and mercy reached out to me with second chances.

When Highway 53 was upgraded, there was one other very important addition. They put a ‘rumble strip’ along the outer edge of the road. When the tire of your car goes over it, the noise made becomes a warning that you are too close to the edge.

Spiritually for me and for you, that 'rumble strip' can be God reminding us of his love and mercy. He doesn’t want distractions and temptations of life to cause us to plunge into the ditch and die. Actually, He wants us to die another kind of death and choose to stay on the road. The other kind of death is – to die to self, saying “no” to “the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.”

Here’s is a poem, that has meant a lot to me, that speaks about my life’s journey. The words were written by Theodore Monod in 1874 during a series of consecration meetings in England.

O the bitter shame and sorrow,
That a time could ever be,
When I proudly said to Jesus,
All of self, and none of Thee!

Yet He found me; and I beheld Him
Bleeding on the cruel tree,
And my wistful heart said faintly,
Some of self, and some of Thee!

Day by day His tender mercy,
Healing, helping, full and free,
Brought me lower, while I whispered,
Less of self, and more of Thee!

Higher than the highest heavens,
Deeper than the deepest sea,
Lord, Thy love at last hath conquered:
None of self, and all of Thee!

The Apostle Paul writes about how to die to self and say “no” when distractions and temptations of life come:
  1. “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.” (Romans 6:6)
  2. “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6:11)
  3. “Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.” (Romans 6:13)
Thank God for second chances.

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