By Christine Howard
How often have you thought about getting a second chance in your life? If you’re like most women, the answer would be often. In reality, God gives us a second chance, from moment-to-moment, as we read in 2 Cor. 5:17 that “…all things are made new… ” (RHE). But in this newness is uncertainty and that stops us cold.
These second chances always involve transitions, which the majority of us don’t enjoy or frequently don’t desire. However, these periods of adjustment are routinely the path God uses to reveal His will and blessings in the most unexpected ways. As Gary Chapman says, “Without detours the children of Israel would have been in the Promised Land in six days; but with loads of baggage to deal with.”
Trina was given a second chance through the devastation of her husband’s departure for a bachelor’s life. But this opened the door for her to embrace the career she’d put on hold while nurturing their five children over a twenty-six year span. No, this wasn’t the way Trina wanted to enter the workforce, but God had a real blessing for her as she trusted Him to hold and heal her. Not only was there a highly satisfying job He’d been shaping while she raised her family, but five years later there was a godly man and a new, solid marriage for her life’s next chapter.
Isaiah 61:3 says, “…He will make beauty out of ashes…” Unless you’ve experienced the challenges as Trina did, the promises of God’s words don’t seem powerful enough to handle our situations. In Calm My Anxious Heart, Linda Dillow says, “God reaches into the pit of our pain and withdraws healing beyond imaginable the moment we relinquish the controls of our lives to Him.”
God confirmed for Trina that He was fully deserving of her trust, that He wastes no trial or tear, and that He sees His children and brings them forth from their valleys as gold (Job 23:10).
After the death of her only son, Jeanne was given a second chance to be a mother by caring for hundreds of needy children. Unlike most moms, Jeanne had a terminally ill child whom she cared for, for eight years. Daniel’s death left her depleted on every level. With her wonderful husband, Ed, she slowly began the long journey back to some semblance of normalcy. But the absence of their son was choking. Finally, a friend suggested they become foster parents. In the twenty-three years I’ve known this couple, hundreds of children have been blessed to become part of their lives, whether for a weekend or decades.
Psalm 113:9 states, “…the barren woman shall be the mother to multitudes…” Jeanne is still a beacon for women whose arms are empty of the children they desire. James MacDonald in Authentic puts it this way, “Those who’ve never known suffering and disappointment from their perspective can never embrace the comfort and satisfaction that God pours out.”
God confirmed for Jeanne that her life as a mom was being expanded by a loving God who thoroughly comforted her and moved her into a world where her blessings only multiplied (2 Cor. 1:1-3).
Cassandra was given a second chance after completing thirty years of military service. She’d worked and persevered through West Point, achieving the rank of a one-star general and the respect of everyone who knew her. She was the epitome of excellence and integrity in her work and faith. But when she retired, she was utterly lost. The first few months, she diligently worked on making her first house a real home. Yet once that project was completed she felt the emptiness of having no close relationships. But Cassandra’s world was changed when a neighbor invited her to attend a ladies’ tea at her church. After just two hours with these women, Cassandra realized an entire aspect of her life had been neglected. Like a dry sponge, she began to soak up the precious fellowship that comes when women gather. God confirmed for Cassandra that His will included the full spectrum of life: both sacrificial service to her country and warm embraces from women who were part of God’s plan for her (Tit. 2:3-5).
Margaret was given a second chance when she turned ninety years old. She’d been happily married for sixty-six years when widowhood came. She now thought her maternal roles were all that were left to her–but she was wrong. After one stirring message from a young missionary couple, Margaret wondered what she could do to support their ministry. The more she prayed about it, the more she felt convicted to go to the mission field. But who would have a ninety-year-old woman? The same young couple who had inspired her! Four months later, passport and suitcase in hand, Margaret boarded a jet for South Korea. She traveled with the young couple, their two children, and another family to begin a preschool in South Korea. Margaret had no formal training, but had sixty-two years’ experience as a mom, grandmother, and great-grandmother. Her expertise was recognized and valued by this young couple, who paid for her to accompany them. Within a month, Margaret’s presence in every aspect of the preschool project proved invaluable.
Isaiah 6:8 confronts each of us with a question from God, “Whom shall I send?” Hopefully the answer is, “…send me…” Sinclair B. Ferguson in Take the Christian Life Seriously says, “The Father has no lazy days for His children while on earth. Indeed every moment is marked by purpose, which we must seek out to know.”
God confirmed for Margaret that there is absolutely no retirement plan for His children. He had a wondrous job assignment for her and all she had to do was say yes.
Now, your second chance may not involve a transition to another country at ninety years of age, and hopefully, it won’t entail the departure of a spouse. But normally it’s these life-altering events which God uses to introduce a new course for our lives.
So how do we prepare for these second chances?
First, we remember that our lives are in constant flux, whereas Jesus remains the same, yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8). As the Rev. Billy Graham said, “The Christian life is 90 percent reaction to the 10 percent action of living. All the more reason to give the Spirit full control to ensure our responses are the ones God wants.” Fixing our eyes on His sovereignty assures that God’s hand is guiding our every decision.
Second, we need to have an A-B-C game plan ready.
- Actively seek His will in your circumstances and do not concentrate on those situations which have dramatically shifted your life.
- Be willing to accept His will and see it as an opportunity He is providing for your second chance. This is harder than seeking His will.
- Commit to move, along with careful counsel, in the direction His second chance is giving you as soon as you have accepted this new course of direction.
Over the course of my sixty-two years, I’ve had countless second chances. Every one of them has appeared during or after a major life-challenging event. The most amazing change took place after the death of my husband. God began to use me to minister to those experiencing losses in their lives–not only the losses from death, but the loss of health, financial security, children, home, innocence, freedom, marriage, and other such painful losses. I began to share how God had become my husband (Isa. 54:4) and a father to my children (Ps. 68:5-6). As I shared with others, I understood as never before the tender, perfect course God has prepared for each of us. He will not stop working in us, until He is finished (Phil. 1:6).
That God chose to use my grief to reach others didn’t surprise me for He promises to use everything for our good (Rom. 8:28). What did surprise me was seeing how my ministering to others comforted my children.
Dr. Helen Roseveare in Move This Mountain says, “Today’s most challenging event may be the very instrument God designed as a catalyst to begin your second chance for tomorrow.”
Are you actively seeking His opportunities for your life? Are you willing to be used in a new way? Are you ready to go without hesitation? He has so much to offer the one who says yes.