I was making a forecast earlier this week and felt pretty good about how things were turning out. Most of the big storms were in Minnesota and Iowa and I knew there was a small chance for a few weak ones along a cold front dropping through northern WI as it headed south. When I got home from the office, my email started to let me know that the office was putting out alerts for storms near Green Bay - I had underestimated the impact of the cold front and the storms were bigger than I thought they were. In hindsight - I wish I had looked harder at the cold front - I knew better. "Can I have a do-over?”
As of this writing we're in week two of "The Family Church" series at St. Paul's, and I'm just being blown away at the teaching, insights, and moments in worship, in God's word, in the devotions and the messages. This past week was about considering the reality that all of us who know Christ as Lord and Savior, are in a position to be a shepherd to someone (you can watch the message here). Particularly for moms and dads, this idea of being the PASTOR of my family, is pretty radical and for some of us downright terrifying. Being a Pastor is hard.
I can say with the Psalmist "I know my transgressions and my sin is always before me" - Psalm 51:3. I KNOW my intentional, willful acts of rebellion. I am aware of my quiet failings that I hear about years later. The enemy is eager to remind me of my missteps and my natural urge is to say "I've got to fix this!” If I can't fix it, then I long to have a do-over. Yet life doesn't work like a video game, you don't just reset it back to start. Perhaps you get one in golf, but there are no mulligans in life. Our actions have repercussions and when they involve sin, the consequences leave us devastated. Are you wishing for a Do-Over in your life, but know that you'll never get one?
As Pastor Pete Panitzke wound down his message from God's word, he wanted to leave all of us with a clear ringing Gospel message, and it just released the guilt of my heart releasing the weight and memory of my failings as a Parent Pastor. God, knowing our desire to fix things on our own efforts, or our desire to just quit because it's too hard, says to you and me - "I don't give Do-Overs... I give Forgiveness".
A Do Over makes it easy for us to ignore the past and move on without learning... it stifles vulnerability and intimacy. Repentance acknowledges our sin. It paves the way for Grace to be the wonder that it is, restoring the whole relationship we have with our Father in heaven. Faith in a loving, saving God is the gift that allows us to humbly admit failure and receive the blessing that Forgiveness is.
I am grateful for the shepherds in my life who remind me that it is not about the Do-Over, but it is moving forward in the power of forgiveness. It is Forgiveness that God uses to change our futures. If you've screwed up a relationship, damaged a friendship, or been impacted by the sin of someone else, I pray that you and I can find freedom and strength that comes through the forgiveness given to us. That we might be restored and then be used by God to restore all the other people we know that are wishing for a Do-Over.
May you and I have the opportunity to be the sweet sound of Gospel joy in the world this week!