Faith Stories: A Second Chance
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. — Ezekiel 36:26
I sat alone in the pew that Sunday morning. The congregants were just beginning to trickle in. The sanctuary – beautifully adorned with Advent greenery – was filled with the brilliant light of a clear, crisp December day. I was focusing on the altar when the thought came to me: If things had gone differently yesterday, the minister could shortly be announcing my untimely death to my friends and beloved community of faith. In that moment, I realized fully for the first time that I had been given a second chance.
The day before, I had left Columbia, Missouri, well before dawn, after visiting with my husband’s elderly mother. The dark interstate was wet and slick with a cold steady rain. In that part of Missouri, the road runs through rather hilly terrain. Every few miles, I was carefully passing one by one what seemed like a fleet of Fed-Ex double long trucks. As I passed one truck, the road went up a slight hill. I completed the pass and pulled in front of the truck just before the hill’s crest. Immediately, over the crest a car sped past in the left lane just next to me going the wrong way. The headlights coming toward me on my side of the interstate startled and confused me. But when the full realization came that I had avoided a head-on collision by mere yards, I began to shake. A little way up the road, I had to pull over to the shoulder because I was shaking so violently. I cried with relief and I reverently prayed – grateful to have been saved from a terrible accident but also terrified for the people in that speeding car.
What an awakening! Literally, a second chance at life!
We all are given a second chance at life – every morning that we awake to a new day. Every dawn brings new possibilities, fresh opportunities to live out our faith in the daily actions of our lives. Probably the most important realization for me was the need to focus on living my life with gratitude – despite the many challenges and obstacles that I contend with. To live fully and enthusiastically and to spend our days serving God and loving our neighbors – that’s what it’s all about! I keep a little button on the vanity next to my vitamins. I read it every morning, and its message has sustained me through days of joy and grief, excitement and pain. It reads simply: ‘Every day is a gift from God.’