When we need a second chance
Hola a todos! To be fair, we were warned: “There are strong side winds at Tenerife-South airport.” But we may not all have been emotionally prepared! So we made our approach and as the landing gear lowered, you could feel our plane being tossed about, up and down, side to side. At that point I immediately felt guilty about enjoying all those YouTube clips of planes having difficulty landing in strong crosswinds. Two women behind me were laughing very loudly. It’s wonderful to have a sense of humour, I thought. Looking out of the window I could see that we were almost there – until suddenly at just under 1000 feet the engine noise changed. Our pilot had decided to abort the landing. “I wonder what happens next” I thought as we were treated to a low-altitude survey of the east coast of Tenerife. I knew there was another airport to the north of the island and I wondered if our car hire firm would allow me to change my booking. But no. The first officer informed us that we were going to have another go at landing at Tenerife-South. I was intrigued. Either the pilot had decided that this time he would concentrate and try harder OR he was hoping that the wind gusts would be different OR this time he would follow a particular procedure for landing in high winds. I resolved to ask Steve Hilton when we get home. As we banked hard to the right, I must say I was impressed by the demeanour of my fellow passengers. I could hear no quiet sobbing or rendering of “Abide with me.” However, I decided not to remind Jacqui that the emergency exit was seven rows behind us, something I always do at takeoff. So we made our second attempt – and it seemed much easier this second time around. As the tyres hit the runway, not even a bounce. Everyone applauded the skill of our pilots. If only life were this simple. We all carry our collection of regrets, often more than just a few, too few to mention. Only this week someone opened their heart to me about how they now realise they caused the breakdown of their marriage. “The damage’s done now, no turning back the clock.” There is a delightful confession on my daughter’s website. I’m writing this offline and so I can’t insert a hyperlink. Go to https://www.diddydisciples.org/samples. Click the clip of the little girl in the red dress, second from the right or if you are using your phone fourth clip down. I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I wish I could start again. The one person in the Gospels who wished he could start again has to be Simon the Rock. He enthusiastically promised Jesus his total support. “Even though all become deserters, I will not!” (Mark 14:29) And then should anyone be in any doubt of his commitment: “Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.” (Mark 14:31) Except that he did. And as the cock crowed a second time, “Peter broke down and wept bitterly.”
In “Jesus Christ Superstar” the disciples along with Mary Magdalene sing: Hurry up and tell me, This is just a dream, Oh, could we start again please? Very much the refrain of the human heart, the longing for a fresh start. “Could I start again please?” That’s why the Gospel is such good news – it’s a new beginning. “Easter is very important to me; it’s a second chance.” C&W singer Reba McEntire. For this is the message of the resurrection, beginning with Peter. Remarkably and against every expectation, this broken disciple is given a second chance as he walks alongside the Sea of Galilee with the risen Jesus. “Peter, feed my sheep.” And this is the prospect for every returning prodigal. Whatever, wherever, however we are welcomed back into the Father’s arms. I recall years ago someone I knew well receiving God’s free forgiveness following their adultery and self-centred lifestyle. They were given a remarkable promise from the Old Testament which over the subsequent years proved true. The prophet Joel calls his people to repentance for their disobedience (yet again) and should they respond, God offers them a fresh start, a new beginning. And more, he will make up for their loss. “O children of Zion, be glad and rejoice in the LORD your God. . . . I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten.” (Joel 2:25) Which he did. Welcome to the Second Chance Saloon!