An Asante/Fante proverb from Ghana says "If an opportunity is not taken when it comes, it passes away."
'If only' are two of the saddest words in the English language – when they are written together. For example:
"If only I had finished my schooling, I would have a better job."
"If only I had not started on drugs, I would not be here in prison."
"If only I had made a different decision, now I could be …"
The chance to do something, but we spoiled it
Feeling bad about the past spoils things for us today and in the future too. Maybe we had the chance to do something, but we spoiled it, or others took it from us. So we think we will never be happy and fulfilled. But "if only" can have a happy meaning – if the answer is "yes". Many people wish, "If only I could have a second chance."
And God says, "Yes, I want to give you a second chance."
People even say about God that he is 'the God of the second chance'. He wants to give us many things:
● forgiveness for our mistakes and wrong doing.
● healing from pain, shame, and fears from the past.
● protection from evil spirits, 'bad luck' and fear.
● the chance to start our lives again, no longer alone.
● help to make important life choices – about our work, our study, maybe a person to marry.
● strength to cope with the difficult things that happen to us.
We do not find God's love and help by trying to do good things. Everything God gives is free. We do not deserve to receive anything! We cannot 'earn merit' with God. When you hear God offering you a second chance, take it now. If you say, "No, maybe later," it will be much harder to hear the offer another time. There are sad words in the Bible about some people who said "no". They had the offer of a second chance, but it says1 they "refused to accept God's plan for themselves". They thought they 'knew it all'. They did not think that there was anything new to learn about God.
God was giving me a second chance
Kelita, a singer from Canada, took the second chance when it was offered to her. She writes, "It happened quickly. As the van went around the bend, I just had time to shout to my husband to hold on. The van rolled upside down in the ditch. But we were not hurt! That night, in that cold, dark ditch, I realised God was giving me a second chance at life."
As a girl, Kelita had been a follower of Jesus. He changed her life after many sad things happened to her, including sex abuse and the death of people in her family. But when she became successful, she did not think she needed Jesus any more. Then drugs, strong drink and wrong sex led her into a very unhappy life.
I hated myself
I started to hate myself. I felt lost, empty and unloved. I started to ask God to show me a way out of this mess. That's when the accident happened. It was a big turn-around for me. I said, "OK, God, I can't live like this any more. I'm giving myself to you once again."
This started my 'healing journey'. With God's help, I've been able to deal with the hurts in my life. His healing hand came into my life and touched me. It is wonderful what Jesus can do in someone's life when the reins are handed over to him. God is so alive and real. With him in control of my life, I have a peace that lives and breathes inside me, no matter what troubles I have."
1) These words are in one of the Bible's gospels (the Injil) written by Luke, chapter 7, verse 30.