A reflection by Donna Kline
Minnie Mouse flew head first from the back seat to the front, accompanied by giggles and “Mommy, can I have Minnie back, please?” “No, I’m sorry, you can’t. Last time you threw her you promised to never do it again, so you made a bad choice. You can have her back when we get home.”
Both of our grandchildren have parents who try to give them choices whenever possible: a couple of outfits to choose from when getting dressed; two or three different fruits or vegetables; whether or not to throw stuffed animals. Some choices simply give them a feeling of independence, that they have some control over their young lives; others have more “significant” consequences.
We spend our days making choices, and I daresay my grandchildren’s track records in making good ones are likely no better than yours or mine. But our God, like any good parent, also gives us second chances. And third. And so on. And that’s what I’m thankful for today, what I try to be thankful for—or at least mindful of—every day. In spite of the incredible number of bad choices I’ve made and continue to make, I almost always get another chance to make things right. That’s called grace.
Choices—and second chances—come in all sorts of flavors. We all regret certain fashion or hairstyle choices as we laugh over old family photos. More significant, certainly, are poor choices in the way we treat others, or how we choose to spend our time and energy and other resources. We all fall short; we all get another chance.
But what if we don’t take advantage of the opportunity to make a needed course correction? What if we refuse to see that our actions are hurtful? What if we continue to use our resources to better our own lives rather than seeing that we have more than enough and sharing the excess with those who have so little? What if we decide to throw the gift of grace back in God’s face and say, “Thanks, but I’ll continue down this comfortable path?” What happens then?
Then, God gives us yet another chance. God’s grace is endless. That grace is what I’m most thankful for, and my prayer is that each day I will need less.
Donna Kline is the former director of Deacon Ministries for the Church of the Brethren. Support the ministries of the Church today at brethren.org/give .