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Second Chance
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The classroom was buzzing with excitement before the morning bell rang. In a few days school would be out for the summer, and I was substitute teaching a room full of antsy fifth and sixth graders. I told them at the beginning of class: “Your teacher said that if you stay focused and get all your work done, there might be time for an extra recess!” The room erupted with enthusiasm and they sat in their seats like little angels. For about ten minutes. And then the end-of-the-year restlessness began.

Despite a warning, they just couldn’t seem to control themselves, so I said, “I’m sorry but you’re not cooperating, so there won’t be an extra recess.” You would have thought someone just told them their pet had died. Doleful eyes looked at me as I passed out a history quiz. Although I felt bad for them, I had no intension of changing my mind until I heard a voice inside me say, “Use this as a learning experience to teach them about Me, and how I give second chances.”

Extra Recess

I couldn’t ignore that prompting, so I said to the class, “Actually… I’ve changed my mind. I was just thinking of how many times Jesus has given me a second chance when I’ve messed up, and I want to give you one, too. If you will focus on your work, and if we get each assignment done, we will have an extra recess.” Their sad eyes turned to happy ones, and they were incredible for the rest of the day. They worked hard, kept each other in line and finished all their work.

At the end of the day, before the final bell rang, I said to the students, “I want you to remember today. Because someday, as you’re growing up, you may make a big mistake and wonder whether or not God can possibly forgive you. If that happens, I want you to remember that when you were in grade school, there was a substitute teacher who told you that God gives second chances. And then you’ll know that you can be forgiven.” The bell rang and the room emptied within seconds.

Will they remember? I don’t know. But I believe that our kids need examples of second chances more often—at home, at school, at church. Of course we can’t give second chances all the time. If we did, they would feel free to disobey, knowing that we always give them another chance. But in the right circumstance, we can use second chances to teach them about a loving God who forgives, accepts and forgets. A God who gives second chances.

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By Nancy Canwell. Copyright © 2011 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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