George Bowers Sr. Thank God for do-overs
One hundred and fifty-five years ago, on July 3, 1863, Confederate Maj. Gen. George Pickett led an ill-fated assault on Union lines at Gettysburg. Acting on orders from Gen. Robert E. Lee, Pickett and his men charged over open fields attempting to take the high ground from their enemies. Instead of success, however, the Confederates were beaten back with casualty rates greater than 50 percent.
The old saying reminds us that, “Hindsight is 20/20,” and I’m sure that’s one decision Lee would have loved to have done over with the insight he gained from the defeat. Not only did his men lose that initiative, but they also lost the Gettysburg battle which became the turning point in the Civil War, eventually resulting in Lee’s surrender a year and half later at Appomattox.
Unfortunately for Lee, there was no second chance to get it right and some instances in our lives are similar. Many times, however, we have numerous opportunities for course corrections and even reversals. It’s up to us to recognize these opportunities and to use them wisely.
Although we only get one go around in raising our children, we are given fresh chances every morning to do better than the day before. Although we only have one shot at our current job, it is made up of daily decisions that we can alter on a day by day basis to do better going forward. Where we have been unkind to a friend or family member the day before, the next is an opportunity to apologize and be more like Jesus.
God is very compassionate and long-suffering. Each new day he grants us is another opportunity to get it right. Where we hurt someone yesterday (or further back), today affords the opportunity to apologize and heal the relationship. Where we left some good deed undone, today provides the chance to go back and do it.
When I was teaching at Central High School years ago, one of my co-workers had a great response to my question of, “How are you doing today?” He would answer, “Just another chance to get it right.” That’s a great way to welcome life every single day. We’ve all messed up in our pasts and by the time you read this article today, like me, you’ve probably already made some mistakes, big or small. But we do have the rest of today as well as tomorrow morning to make a fresh start and go forward.
A really great strategy to do better today than yesterday is to reflect on our past choices. When we look back over our recent decisions, as well as those from further back in our pasts, we can gain insight and wisdom to help avoid repeating bad behaviors and to duplicate good ones.
It’s also important to learn from others. A wise person once said, “None of us live long enough to make all the mistakes ourselves so we should learn from others.” As we live among others, let us live reflectively, considering the results of their various decisions and lifestyles. We may not be able to change them, but we can change us.
Hebrews 13:7 tells us to, “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” Such intentional discipline of examining our own as well as the lives of others can enable us to make better choices when we are fortunate enough to have a do-over.
While we may think that an identical opportunity to do good or to respond appropriately will never come along, similar ones almost certainly will. Reflecting on how we should have responded yesterday and thinking ahead to how we want to respond today will help us do better when a do-over presents itself.
We certainly don’t get second chances at everything in life. Some events are once in a lifetime choices. But the vast majority of the time, God’s grace affords multiple do-overs for us to enact what we have learned and to do better. And as we do so, this gathered life experience and wisdom will help us decide more wisely on the unique life choices as well.
As we remember the events of Gettysburg and the mistakes made on both sides of the line, let us examine our own lives in prayerful reflection to gain whatever wisdom God may grant. In Jesus, George
George Bowers Sr. is the Senior Pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren and has authored eleven books in addition to contributing to Everyday Grace for Men by Worthy Inspired. He can be reached through www.georgebowersministries.com or at firstname.lastname@example.org.