If you have never seen the movie Saving Private Ryan, you should immediately stop reading this and figure out a way to watch it. Not only is it a phenomenal movie, but it teaches us a truth about Jesus that, once we fully comprehend, gives us a new appreciation for his death on the cross.
The most famous line of the movie comes at the end when one of the main characters is dying in his attempt to save Private Ryan (hence the name of the movie). Ryan comes over to try to save the character dying, but he is too late and all the person has time to say is, “earn this.” Lots of people have died in the movie up to this point, and they all did so to make sure Ryan is able to get home safely to his mother. There is a moral dilemma of whether one man is worth all of these sacrifices, and that is why Ryan is told to “earn this.” His final charge is to earn the sacrifices that have been made on his account. Think of the kind of pressure Ryan must have faced the rest of his life by trying to earn the sacrifices that were made to keep him alive...
Now think about the pressure we would have to face if the last thing Jesus said was “earn this.” Could you imagine trying to earn the sacrifice that Jesus made for all of your sins? We wouldn’t have a chance! However, sometimes I live my life as if I need to earn God’s grace and forgiveness the same way that Private Ryan tried to earn the sacrifice made for him by other soldiers. It’s impossible to live that way. I will NEVER earn God’s sacrifice. Ever.
Continual unearned second chances are against my nature. I believe that is is a foreign concept for humans to be given another try without having done anything to earn it. I’ve grown up playing sports, and in sports you don’t get free do overs. You don’t get an extra free throw in basketball if you miss one, or a mulligan on every tee shot, or a fourth strike. In sports, if you miss your chance, it’s over. That’s it. With Jesus we get as many tries as we need. God never stops giving us second chances.
So whether you’re living on second chance number seven or second chance number seven thousand, know that God wants you to succeed more than anyone. He’s going to love you when you get it right, and he’s going to give you another try when you get it wrong. That’s grace. That’s God.