by John C. Miller

God spoke to the prophet Jeremiah and sent him to a potter’s house. "Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words. Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel (Jeremiah 18: 2-6)."

God is a God of a second chance; of another opportunity. Job 14:7-9 says, "For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease. Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground; yet through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant." This is a promise of God. Jesus, the Son of God, takes lives and makes them new again because He is the God of a second chance.

There was a man called Simon, a fisherman by trade and owner of a small store. His life had been "without pain and without glory". He would meet the God of another opportunity. Simon was just like the many fishermen of his day, satisfied with his daily catch of a few fish, and his few baskets per month. "To live and let live" was probably his philosophy on life. But despite all this, God was about to give this rough fellow a new opportunity. Jesus one day showed up in the area where Simon worked. He boarded Simon’s boat and gave the orders to go out to sea and cast the nets. When they pulled in the nets they were so full of fish that they began to break.

When Simon saw this, he fell upon his knees before Jesus and cried, "Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord (Luke 5:8)." Suddenly, in the middle of his humdrum existence, a miracle took place. Jesus then said to him, "Fear not, from henceforth you shall catch men (v10)." The mediocre life Simon had led, now belonged to the past. From that moment on, Jesus turned him into a man of fame and he would come to one day be known as the leader of the Christian church in Jerusalem. Simon, that is to say Peter the Apostle.

Now may I present to you a tax collector. I prefer to leave it to your imagination the wealth this type of work gave him. One day Jesus passed his way and noticed him absorbed in his business dealings, undoubtedly in an aggressive manner and cursing all the while. Jesus approached, looked him in the eye, and said just two words, "Follow me (Matthew 9:9)." There must have been something special in the words the Master used because this fellow stood up, left the table, his money, and his past, and followed Jesus. This tax collector was Levi, also known as Matthew, the disciple, the apostle, and author of one of the Gospels. What a significant opportunity! He would write about Jesus. He would walk with Jesus, and generations to come would know of him. Remember, when a vessel is marred, He can make it new.

The course of history is full of men and women who have tasted the kindness of the God of another opportunity. It’s because of their testimonies that you are inspired to keep on walking. When you scan your memory, you find yourself identifying with that now distant person, or with that man who tore his life to pieces. Or, why not with the woman who followed the easy roads that life offered, or he who considered himself religious.

Listen to what one of these fortunate people said, "I persecuted the Christians until death, I shut them up in prison, both men and women." He considered himself so faithful and zealous of his religion that he even punished the saints in the synagogues, and locked them in prison; and when they were executed, he gave his voice against them. He forced them to blaspheme and was so enraged against them that he even persecuted them in distant cities. This man did not deserve a second opportunity. No, not a man like that! Not a man who persecuted Jesus Christ, and who persecuted the Christians. But one day, Jesus appeared to him and offered him another opportunity. "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? (Acts 26:14)."

Through a brilliant light, words like thunder resounded, "I am Jesus whom thou persecutest (v15)." Did Jesus Christ offer Saul another opportunity? Yes... to Paul, the future apostle; to him who wrote a great part of the New Testament; Paul the Apostle, the one who told us about grace, love, pardon, and the kindness of God. And he also spoke to us of the second chance that Jesus Christ offers us.

Here’s another "lucky person". This one was a thief. He was caught, judged, and sentenced to death. He was fortunate enough to die near the crucified Jesus. The thief admitted that he deserved to die. He asked Jesus for another opportunity just minutes before dying, "Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom (Luke 23:42)." And Jesus granted even this man another opportunity. "To day shalt thou be with me in paradise (v43)."

Jesus offers to everyone a second chance and not just to the living. There was a girl whose father came running to Jesus, pleading for an opportunity for his sick daughter. Someone interrupted this father’s pleadings saying that his child had already died. There couldn’t be another opportunity! She was dead! But Jesus told the father, "Take me to your home, she’s only sleeping." Then, once in the house, Jesus took her hand and said, "Talitha cumi (Mark 5:41)." Which means: Little girl, arise!

There is the story of another young man: dead, in a coffin, and being taken to be buried. The grieving mother wept for her son – her only son. But then Jesus passed by. He saw this mother and the coffin and He touched that coffin and said, "Arise (Luke 7:14)."

On another occasion, there was a woman, an adulterous woman, who was saved from being stoned to death. Some religious men caught her in the very act of adultery and were outraged. They took her and dragged her through the streets. They wanted to stone her to death, but first they delivered her to Jesus. The woman trembled with fear and begged for mercy. Jesus gave her a second chance. He looked at all those who accused her, with that profound look that discovers the deepest secrets of the heart, and one by one, they lowered their eyes. Meanwhile Jesus wrote on the ground. Then they quietly left, one by one, convicted by their own conscience. When Jesus was alone with the woman, He asked her, "Woman, where are those thine accusers? (John 8:10)" And not seeing anyone there He added, "Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more (v11)."

How beautiful it is to have a another opportunity! When life seems to be destroyed, when there is no hope, when nothing can be done, when one wants to die because they find no answers, a second chance is just around the corner.

Finally we read the story of a man who ruined his life. Jesus referred to him in a parable, saying, "A certain man had two sons: and the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living (Luke 15:11-13)." There wasn’t a thing that he didn’t do. When he had wasted all his money and didn’t have a cent left, his friends abandoned him, and his life was destroyed. Alcohol, women, and parties ruined him. Now he was alone and abandoned; condemned, cursed, and on top of that, his life of sin hung heavy like a stone around his neck.

He found a man who had a small pig farm and begged him to hire him. He was in such want, that the husks that the pigs ate satisfied his hunger. It was in this terrible condition that he contemplated his ruined life and thought, "How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! (v17)." Then he had an idea. Perhaps there was hope of a second chance for him. Perhaps his past could be reverted. This young man began to take hope… "I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants (v18,19)." So he arose and began the long journey back to his father’s house. He didn’t know how he would be received. Perhaps he wondered, "Will he give me what I deserve because of my sin? Will he throw me out?"

As he was approaching his home, his father saw him from afar, and went running to meet him. Even though he was dirty and in rags, his father threw his arms around his neck, embraced him and kissed him. The son responded, "Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called your son (v21)." But the father called his servants and ordered them to get the best clothes for his son, to place a ring on his finger, and give him shoes. They were also instructed to take the fattest calf, slaughter it, and prepare a feast. The house was soon filled with joy. "For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost and is found (v24)." Those were his father’s words.

Jesus, the God of the another opportunity, has a place in His house for you. He wants to change your rags for new clothes, and cherish you in His embrace of reconciliation. He wants you to rejoice in this great opportunity conceded by Heaven. The God of a second chance, from now on, wants you to lead a new and different life. This second chance doesn’t know age, social level, or race; it only knows kindness. Nowadays many people walk along the street with their lives broken in pieces, longing for another opportunity. Perhaps you are one of those. If you are, then you need to know there is a place for you in the house of the Lord.