We have all needed a second chance. Maybe it was from your spouse, your kids, a friend or even God Himself. Unless you have arrived at perfection, we all need second chances. We all need grace.
We find good news in Deuteronomy chapter 30, that God is a God of second chances. This truth frees us from the fear of failure and allows us to grow from those times we fall short. We are given two distinct opportunities when God gives us a second chance.
The Opportunity to Return to God (vv. 1-5)
Focusing on what God will do in the future if His people will trust Him, Moses states: “When all these blessings and curses I have set before you come upon you” (v. 1). What are the “blessings” and “curses” he’s referring to? There is a detailed list of them in chapter 28. The blessings represent when God’s people obey Him — when they follow where He leads. The curses represent those times in the lives of the Hebrew people where they disobeyed God –when they drifted away from Him. Each refers to the results of either following where God leads or drifting away from Him. God’s people had a history of doing both, and Moses knew that even in the future they would need second chances in relation to God.
Moses tells his people, whether in the midst of blessings or curses, “take them to heart”. This means to reflect on and learn from your experiences. But not only to reflect, but to honestly evaluate and make adjustments that turn you back to God. Some go through life simply having experiences, while others learn from them. God’s Word is telling us to reflect honestly about our lives and learn from our experiences both failures and successes.
Moses continues in v.2, “and when you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey Him”. Notice that reflecting honestly on your life (v. 1) comes before the response to “return” to God (v. 2). You must reflect honestly before you will ever be in a position to respond personally to God. When we do so (vv. 1-2), Moses reveals, “then” (vv. 3-5) God promises that we will experience His compassion (v. 3) and that He will restore what has been lost in the midst of our failures (vv. 4-5).
We will need second chances in life. The question is, will you take your next second chance to return to God? Will you draw near to Him or keep drifting further away?
The Opportunity to Embrace Personal Transformation (vv. 6-8)
If you take your second chance and return to God, the result, according to v. 6, is that “the Lord your God will circumcise your hearts”. This means God will cut away or remove all things over time that hinder a vital relationship with Him. He will do the work of making you into a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). Who you are will over time change (personal transformation).
In time, this transformation will lead to a greater capacity to love God (“love him with all your heart and all your soul”) and a greater capacity to “live” (v. 6b). You will experience a life worth living.
One year, a day after Christmas, Pope John XXIII went to visit one of the worst prisons in Rome. It was the first time in 90 years that a pope had gone to a prison. In greeting the prisoners, Pope John said, “You could not come to me, so I have come to you.” While we are imprisoned by our wrong and sometimes destructive choices, those moments where we simply fall short, Christ comes to us and offers a second chance. We cannot come to Him for the second chance, so He came to us. The question is: What will you do with your second chance when He offers it?
“‘When all these blessings and curses I have set before you come upon you and you take them to heart wherever the LORD your God disperses you among the nations, and when you and your children return to the LORD your God and obey Him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where He scattered you. Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the LORD your God will gather you and bring you back. He will bring you to the land that belonged to your fathers, and you will take possession of it. He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers. The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love Him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.’”
“‘The LORD your God will put all these curses on your enemies who hate and persecute you. You will again obey the LORD and follow all His commands I am giving you today.’”