God of the One More Chance

secondchanceI recently read an interesting little book called Gracenomics which has everything to do with second chances, and third, and fourth . . . Around the same time I was impressed by the group behind the book, People of the Second Chance, whose business is lifting broken people up and enabling them to believe in grace.

More than anything else, I believe people long for forgiveness and a clean slate. Many of Jesus’ stories were grace-focused accounts of radical forgiveness.

Nadia Bolz-Weber, known on the web as Sarcastic Lutheran, speaks about one such parable–the Fig Tree and the Vineyard Owner–in a recent sermon, posted on Patheos:

The fig tree that for whatever reason cannot produce.  I feel like that not infrequently, maybe you do too.  Unable to produce.  Produce writing, or results at your work, or completed job applications. Unable to produce the improvement in the relationship with your mother than you’ve been trying to accomplish.  Maybe we are all fig trees in a way.  Unable to start that exercise program we know we need, unable to make our lives “more spiritual”, unable to keep a clean kitchen.  And sometimes we just give up.

That’s why we so much want–need–to believe that grace is real and God is outrageously and generously good.

Yet, somehow it remains very human for us to think that we cannot be the beneficiaries of such extravagant love. Bolz-Weber concludes:

I feel like the vineyard owner and the tree all at once.  Like I’m my own defendant, judge and jury at the same time.  And I’d love nothing more than to stand here and say that this only happens once in awhile but the fact is it happens all the time. Impatience with myself and others.  Which is why eventually this little parable really broke my heart. Because once I realized that I felt like the tree and the vineyard owner at the same time, both the one who does not produce and the one who harshly judges the lack of production..well when I realized that it felt amazing to make the next jump – which is to realize that God is the one in our lives who steps in with a big sledgehammer of grace and advocates for us saying “one more year”

Another year.  Another month.  Another week.  Another day.  This is what God comes to us offering like an endless deferment of your student loan

One more year, people of God.  One more year to do what needs to be done.  One more year to believe you really are the beloved child of God God has claimed you to be.  One more year to trust in God more than money.  One more year to forgive others.  One more year to forgive yourself.  One more year to put your mistakes behind you or better yet see them as the fertilizer God puts around you so that you can produce fruit.  One more year to be fed at the table of God’s grace.  One more year to be enchanted by the story of Jesus.  One more year to help someone else.  One more year to feel loved.  One more year.   This is the God we see in Jesus Christ.  A God who tells our inner judge-y vineyard owner to back off because you are a beloved child of God who God has named and claimed and forgiven and loved as God’s very own so that you can bear fruit.  So to all of you God again says…one more year.  Amen.

One more year . . . one more chance . . . every day is new and the mercies extended are never-ending.


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