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Second Changes

August 25, 2017

by Rev. Stan Key

I'm not sure I deserved the credit Bonner gave me.
"I want to thank you for saving my life, Doc."
But more important than the credit was the way he finished his statement.
"I'm going to put this second chance to good use. I'm not going to squander it."

Saving Private Ryan is a beautiful but bloody film of personal sacrifice, staged during the Normandy landing in World War II. Captain John Miller and a squad of reluctant soldiers are sent into the front lines to save the last surviving son of a mother who had lost her only other three sons in the war; the squad was successful, at great cost. I watched the tail end of this movie this past Memorial Day and was reminded again of our God of second chances, or should we say "70x7" second chances (Matthew 18:22).

As Christian healthcare professionals, we were each given our first and eternal second chance with God's saving grace through Jesus Christ on Calvary. It was free; it was grace, but on that day, Jesus whispered in our ear, just as the dying Captain Miller whispered in Private Ryan's ear, "Earn it,"...sort of.

In truth, Private Ryan did not have to earn his second chance at life; it was paid for by the blood of soldiers, without his effort even considered. Neither do we have to earn our eternal life; Christ died to ensure it for us, while we were still sinners (Romans 5:6).

Nevertheless, the words "Earn it" speak as profoundly to us as they did to Private Ryan. "Earn it," for us as Christians, does not mean we must work hard to gain eternal life. "Earn it" for the Christian means, "Live it out," constantly aware of the sacrifice made. "Earn it" for the Christian means, "Take up your cross" (Luke 9:23). "Earn it," for the Christian, means, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith" (2 Timothy 4:7). Our salvation certainly comes as a free gift; I did nothing to gain it and I can never lose it. But, handed this second chance at life, we should ever be looking into the loving eyes of our dying Savior and striving to be worthy of the gift He gave us.

This is true for my first second chance and it continues to be true each time I fail. Each time I fail, Jesus says to me, "There is nothing you can do to make me love you more." And with those words I run harder, persevere longer, surrender more  completely, so that I may be worthy of that love which was freely given, until I fail again. Then Jesus once again says "I love you, no matter what," and the vision of my dying Captain puts me on my feet to join the race once more.

Dear God,
Thank you that I need not earn your love or my eternal life. Fill me with the passion to run your race as a gift to you.

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