As I was beginning to write this post, our church announced our Easter series would be called “second chances.” I found this to mean I should post it closer to Easter…so here you go!
I spent much of my life wandering with no direction. I had a wife, a child, and a career and no idea on what to do. Questions continued to linger in my life…what’s the point of it all? I had grown up believing in God, started doubting as a teenager, and later decided the whole thing was a made up story…where was the proof anyway?
Let’s pause my story for a minute and read about Thomas…one of Jesus’ disciples.
In the Book of John, you can read about Jesus’ death on the cross and how He rose from the dead three days later. At this point, his disciples were hiding together in a locked room, because they were afraid of people turning against them now that Jesus was “dead.” While they were there, Jesus appeared to them, to let them know He was alive and He had indeed risen from the dead. It was noted that Thomas was the only one absent at the time Jesus came to them. Why would Thomas be absent from the group of twelve? What could have been so important for him to be doing that he wasn’t with the rest of the group?
After Jesus had to appeared to them, the other eleven told Thomas about what had happened…and then it becomes fairly evident why Thomas wasn’t there in the first place.
Once the other disciples told Thomas that Jesus had appeared to them, Thomas replied, “If I don’t see the mark of the nails in His hands, put my finger into the mark of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will never believe! ” John 20:25.
Thomas didn’t believe Jesus was alive and had lost his faith. I’m sure he was experiencing doubt about the man he had followed for several years. Jesus claimed to be the Son of God and had been killed on a cross. He wanted visual proof of Jesus being alive, he wasn’t satisfied with the testimony of his eleven closest friends.
Jesus had already appeared to His disciples…it seemed pretty unlikely that Thomas would get his chance to see Jesus in person. Thomas had been too busy contemplating what had happened on his own, and he missed his opportunity for the “proof” he so desperately wanted.
We are blessed to serve a God who gives second chances!
Thomas began hanging out with the other disciples again, and Jesus appeared to them in their group. Jesus spoke directly to Thomas, “Put your finger here and observe My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Don’t be an unbeliever, but a believer.” John 20:27 After seeing, Thomas believed again!
Jesus came back to them again, just to speak to Thomas directly. He wanted to be sure all of the twelve were ready to fully carry on the Gospel. Thomas had an amazing second chance at this! We serve a God that gives us second chances when we mess up the first one. Imagine if God hadn’t come back and given Thomas a second chance…who knows where his life would have ended up.
As He did with Thomas, God has given me a second chance.
At times I felt like Thomas did…needing “proof” that Jesus was alive and that He was God. My faith was weak and I had questions. Like Thomas…I left the people who could have helped me answer these questions and tried to figure things out on my own. No wonder I had missed out on my “proof” all those year…I was too busy running away!
Like Thomas, God came back to get me too, and gave me a second chance. God had put some specific people into my life to lead me back to Him. How humbling is it that God came back for me? He thought I was worth coming back for. I am determined to not mess up the second chance that He has given me! His Word now give me the direction that I had lacked in my life. I know where I am going and have my priorities in order. He has done so much more with my life than I could have even imagined on my own.
I’ve taken away two things from this:
1. No matter who you are or what you’ve done, God will give you another chance! Thomas should have been one of the people with this most faith, and fell a long way. God came back for him! God also came back for me, which is saying A LOT!
2. God uses people in your life to bring you back to Him. In Thomas’s case, the other apostles got Thomas to hang out with them again, and this brought him back to Christ. In my case, God placed a few integral people in my life to bring me back to Him.
What does this all mean?
1. God wants to have a relationship with you NO MATTER WHAT.
2. Christians need to be a POSITIVE influence in the lives of their friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors.
What do I need to do?
1. Do you need a second, third, or twentieth chance? This Easter, go to your local church and learn about Jesus and the second chance that only He can offer.
2. Share how your life has been changed!! Invest in relationships with EVERYONE in your sphere of influence, be a POSITIVE influence in their lives, and INVITE them to meet Jesus and get a second chance.