Sunday, January 15, 2023

Second Chances

By David A. Sargent


    I have known and respected Neal Pollard since we were classmates at Faulkner University in the 1980s.  I did not know until recently of what he calls his “second chance.”  Here is part of his story:

    We were living in Cairo, Georgia, and I was in the third grade.  It was during a game of kickball on the playground and I was the "pitcher."  A kid kicked it hard and I caught it.  As the ball hit me in the gut, I felt a sharp pain.  Something wasn't right.  My parents took me that week to see the local doctor.  He thought it might be a hernia.  Exploratory surgery in Thomasville instead revealed a tumor on my liver.  My parents and I flew to Atlanta, Georgia, where I was checked into Egleston Children's Hospital.  Extensive testing there and in Emory Hospital, the general campus for Egleston, led my team of doctors to the same conclusion: it was cancerous.  They tried to prepare my parents for how slim my chance of survival was.  Even if their diagnosis was wrong, surgery and attending blood loss may well be more than I could stand.  My parents maintained great faith, and my dad solicited prayers from congregations all over the place.  [After the surgery], Dr. Gerald Zwiren, who led a team of highly-skilled doctors, brought the news to my parents that I survived the surgery and later shared the oncology report that my tumor was benign.  That was close to 40 years ago and to this point I have never had further complications.  I certainly received a second chance.

    Periodically, I ponder at length what I have done with that second chance.  The scar I bear from that surgery has long since become invisible to my daily view.  I suffer no lingering consequences.  That event is certainly not why I chose to become a preacher, as if to try and pay a debt to God for saving me.  Sadly, despite His mercy in sparing me, I have sinned in ways great and small that reveal, in addition to all else, a failure to appreciate that blessing.  Spiritually, whether as a preacher, husband, father, or Christian, I am saddled with the realization of how far I have to go.  With the help of His Word, His providence, and His strength, I continue to try to make the most of this extra time He gave me back in 1979. *

    Consider a similarity from Neal’s experience to our own condition…

Because of our sins, we find ourselves lost and doomed to destruction.  As Neal writes, “By all human calculations and efforts, nothing could be done to save us.”

    But God loves us so much that He gave His Son Jesus to die for us so that we might have the forgiveness of our sins and receive the gift of eternal life (John 3:16; Romans 6:23).

Although we are lost due to our sins, God gives us “a second chance.”

    God will save and give eternal life to those who place their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).  The redeeming blood that Jesus shed on the cross will continue to cleanse those who continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7).

    God is the God of second chances.  Take Neal’s words to heart: “You may have messed things up badly in your life.  You may feel that it is impossible for God to love and forgive you.  [But] God is the God of the second chance!  His diagnosis is perfect, and His is the only one that counts!  Trust in the Great Physician.  He has never lost a patient who followed His prescription!”

    Won’t YOU trust and obey the Great Physician and make the most of the “second chance” that He provides in Christ? 

- David A. Sargent, minister for the Church of Christ at Creekwood in Mobile, Alabama, is also the editor of an electronic devotional entitled "Living Water." To learn more about this excellent resource contact David via their website:


* Neal Pollard, “What Do We Make Of God's Second Chances?” in Daily Bread (7/22/15), an e-mail ministry of the Bear Valley church of Christ in Denver, CO, where Neal serves as a Gospel preacher.

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