Monday, March 29, 2010

Instant Replay

I, I am the One who erases all your sins, for my sake;
I will not remember your sins.

-- Isaiah 43:25

There are few do-overs in the game of life. But sometimes there are in the game of golf. We’re talking about the mulligan: if a golfer slices his shot into the woods or a deep sand trap, he might ask his opponent for a mulligan – a chance to try again.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could get a mulligan every time we fail in life? Like for the times we speak rudely to a family member or cut off another motorist in traffic. Or when we gossip about someone at church or “forget” to report some income on our tax forms. Better still, what about a do-over for that night (20 years ago) when we shoplifted on a dare from a friend? Big or small, our failures in life can weigh heavy in our hearts. We can’t stop thinking about them and about all the “would-haves-should-haves.”

If we could only erase those ugly moments in time and start over with a clean slate.

Yes, everyone of us can use a few mulligans.

The Apostle Peter could relate to these feelings. Although he was one of Jesus’ earliest apostles, witnessed his Master’s miracles and even walked on water – until his faith ran out – the bold one called The Rock failed the test. Peter had earlier assured Jesus that he would stand by Him no matter what. And even die if necessary. But only hours after Jesus’ betrayal and arrest, Peter denied even knowing Jesus. And not just once… but THREE TIMES!

That’s pretty sobering stuff. But the good news for us is that God is well aware that “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” We can find His solution to this universal problem throughout the Bible.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness,” we read in 1 John. And this passage from Proverbs lends us even more reassurance: “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.”

A popular bumper sticker sums it up. “Christians aren’t perfect,” it reads. “Just forgiven.” It’s when we desperately need a mulligan to cover our failures – whether on or off the golf course – that we can always count on God’s undeserved kindness. We just need to confess our shortfalls to Jesus in faith.

The result is a clean scorecard. A complete and total do-over.

“How far has the Lord taken our sins from us?” the Psalmist asks. “Farther than the distance from east to west!”

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