Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…
And the Angel said to the three women who came to the empty tomb that morning, “Don’t be alarmed…He is risen…But go, and tell His disciples and Peter, that He is going ahead of you into Galilee.”
Mark 16: 7
It’s the kind of morning that always seems to give rise to hope—sunny, breezy, with spring-like temperatures predicted for the rest of the day. A bit like the sunshine the three women unexpectedly found at the empty tomb that morning so long ago.
A place to find a second chance.
My thoughts drifted to the passing landscape of a few years ago driving through farmlands of west Indiana to a conference where I was scheduled to speak on team building and leadership principles to ministry leaders gathering from across the country. The barns and garages of the passing farmhouses were uniformly adorned with basketball backboards, exactly the way I envisioned they would be from the stories of the Midwest traditions of the sport.
Milan, Indiana was in the other direction, in the southeast corner of the state, not too far from the Ohio border. A little town of about one thousand in which dreams and second chances were made over fifty years ago and which became the springboard for the movie “Hoosiers”. I watched that movie again the other day—it’s on my top-five list and must-see viewing as we enter that annual rite of pilgrimage which we call March Madness. A moment where college basketball players, coaches and fans from across the nation embark on an improbable journey, creating lifetime memories, for a chance at “one shining moment”, and perhaps along the way to find something extraordinary within themselves they had never known was there.
Milan High School (Hickory High School in the movie)—a school of 160 students— won that state championship game in 1954, defeating Muncie Central (South Central in the movie) with its three thousand plus student body, with a game-winning basket in the final seconds of the game. But it’s in the shadow of the backboards on basketball court after basketball court where the real-life stories dwell.
That’s the place we often overlook, where stories of second chances come alive and where dreams come true. A coach, barred from coaching for hitting a player, was given a second chance. An alcoholic turned assistant coach, also given a second chance. The team’s manager-player, who played sparingly up until then, in a critical moment of victory or defeat, was given a second chance. A team and a town—initially focused only on winning—were given a second chance, under the darkening skies of certain defeat, to find more than just a state title in the sunshine of second chance after second chance.
Stories not at all unlike the story in that verse from the Gospel of Mark above—“But go and tell the disciples and Peter…” The same Peter who had on three separate occasions denied that he knew Christ, as Christ was heading to his death on the cross. That same Peter was given a Divine second chance. Tell the disciples, but tell Peter, too. A second chance, where lives are healed, and where we reach again for all we were created to be, and where dreams begin to bloom.
And I would suspect if you mined down deep into the lives and stories of the participants in this year’s version of March Madness—2011, you would find a lot of stories like those in “Hoosiers”, and like that of Peter, and perhaps like many of those folks around you, or maybe even like you.
Of a coach overcoming what everyone thought was a terminal illness to lead his team on to the Sweet 16. Of a player, overcoming incredible odds against him as a child, to be able to say he was there—and now committed to the life God has planned for him and inspiring others in their own journey. A coach and his wife, losing a baby before it was even born, and together reaching up, and finding new meaning for their next day realizing that God was still there. Of team-after-team achieving things they had never done—with simply another chance—to perhaps accomplish the improbable.
Need a second chance at the day? Perhaps something’s off track in your career plans. Something you should have said, or shouldn’t have said, to your spouse? Maybe you made a big mistake and can’t forgive yourself and move on. Maybe you need to turn some area of weakness over to God to help you with and give you strength to overcome. Or maybe you need a second chance to be a meaningful part of your child’s life. With the same God who gave Peter a second chance, you won’t run out of chances with Him to change the way things are, to lift yourself after you fall, or to touch and change another life for the better.
Need a second chance? Today is the day. Before you run out of time, look up, reach out, and step forward into the arms of the God of the empty tomb.
The God of the second chance.
The morning is still sunny and breezy with spring-like temperatures—the way it was the morning of the empty tomb. We’ll no doubt have some mornings that are gray, overcast and drizzly, with storms sprinkled in there too. But the God of the empty tomb, the God of Peter, and the God of everyone one who feels at times they shouldn’t and couldn’t, stands ready to give us a second chance, and a third, and a fourth—throughout eternity.
You guessed it—He’s always there—no matter the gray or sunshine of the day, or the heartaches or disappointments of our lives, with yet another chance to leap into all the potential He planned for our lives.
Reach for it—that second chance—to become all that God has always intended for you to be.
Reach for it—the life He created you to live—today and every day, for the rest of your life.
In His Name—Scott