A God of Second Chances  

by  Lee Schappell   Copyright 2007

 

The old adage that lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same place was debunked long ago. And the one about opportunity knocking but once has been proved only rhetorical fluff.

So, how many times did God deliver to Moses two tables of stone containing His Law? The answer is twice – because that’s how many attempts were required to accomplish His purpose. Why, even the postman makes a second attempt to deliver your parcel, doesn’t he? So, you really have to hear this one!

            My mother purchased a neat little “mini-rancher” home back in 1952, and for nearly forty years managed commendably to keep pace with the necessary maintenance and repairs. However, by 1990, due to the ravages of time on both the structure and its lone occupant, the old homestead had fallen into serious disrepair. Now in her eighties, Mother no longer possessed the grit and resolve to continue investing her fading strength and dwindling resources into such a losing battle. The little lady was clearly in over her head.

            “I can’t keep up with it any more,” she sighed. “So, I’m just going to let it fall down around my ears.”  Perhaps, something like this …

 

            Beyond question, the Lord had been moving mightily in my personal life and business affairs, which only served to encourage me and my wife, Elsa, to seek his counsel in all things great and small. So, we analyzed, discussed, and prayed over Mother’s situation, and together developed a plan of action.

 

What if?

            What if we were to convert the entire lower level of our home into an apartment for Mother? There were three garage bays, but we really required only two. There was also a workshop and an adjoining storage area, and a large recreation room with bathroom facilities. I sketched a possible layout and discovered that there was more than enough room for an open, airy living room, a spacious pantry, oodles of closet space, a cozy bedroom area, and a full kitchen with an intimate “sit-and-chat nook.”

            During our Friday evening visit, Elsa and I proposed our idea to Mother and presented the floor-plan I had drawn up. She accepted our invitation and immediately began plotting where her various personal items and furniture might fit in.

            “Mother, we’ll need to begin searching immediately for a buyer for your home,” Elsa reminded her. Before we returned home that night, the three of us knelt together and prayed for God’s guidance in finding a suitable, qualified buyer. We asked further that He send someone quickly, so that we could soon take Mother in and give her the security she deserved.

Bad Timing . . .

            Locally, home sales had been lagging – more accurately, sagging – in the early 1990s. Several friends and associates had placed homes on the market for as long as a year, even two and more, with no valid action. Nary a bite!

            Around that time there was a most appropriate gospel tune entitled, “God Loves to Work When Nothing Else Will.”  I couldn’t help thinking, What an opportunity this house sale would be for God to prove to Mother, and all who knew of her situation, the extent of His great providence and His willingness to look after those who are trusting totally in Him.

 

 Mother listed her home for sale the first thing Monday morning. When we returned the following Friday evening, she announced that a prospective buyer had stopped by and made a cash offer.

            “That’s great! Praise God!” Elsa and I exclaimed like a Greek chorus.

            “But I sent Him away.” Mom responded.

            “Whaaaat?” I squeaked, while Elsa inquired, “Why?”

            “Well,” she reasoned, “he only offered me $_______, and I told him I want more than that. I think it is worth more!”

            Collecting her thoughts, Elsa said, “Mother, you may be right. It probably is worth more. But don’t you want to get out from under this crushing weight and move on with your life? This is much more than you are able to manage.”

            “You’re eighty-two now,” I added, “and after more than forty years of great history in this old cracker box, you’ve got someone now who is willing to give you nearly four times what you originally paid for it. Besides, isn’t this the absolute best of what we could have ever prayed for?”

            “Oh, I guess maybe I ought to just take the offer and turn the page,” Mother said quietly. “But I already told him to hit the pike! What do you think I should do?”

            “We’ll have to ask the Lord to send him back here again,” I heard myself say, although I was really uncertain how willing God might be to repeat His blessing, considering that Mother had slammed the door on His first miracle.

 

A Pair of Promises

            Yet I remembered a God who invites, “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8), and that He promises to “open (you) the windows of heaven, and pour out a blessing” (Malachi 3:10) for His faithful.

            Fortified with this assurance, we determined to take Him at His word and prove Him again, because Mother desperately needed His blessing. Once more, three petitioners knelt before the Throne of Grace asking the Lord, in His great patience and mercy, to please touch again the heart of this gentleman (whose name mother simply was not able to recall), and prompt him to return with his offer. Then, we left the entire matter in God’s hands, subject to His terms, vowing to interfere no more.

            When Elsa and I returned the following Friday evening, our customary, casual chatter had barely begun when Mother broke in.

            “Oh, yes, Mr. DeAngelo* stopped back on Tuesday.”

            “Who’s Mr. DeAngelo?” we both chorused, as if on cue.

            “That’s the man who wants to buy the house,” mother grinned. “He’s a builder, preparing for retirement, and he wants to remodel this house for himself. He told me he thought I may have answered too hastily last week; so he decided to drop by to re-propose his original offer.”

 

No Room for Doubt

            Like a bolt out of the blue, God’s blessing is re-bestowed, and opportunity plays an encore! How could I ever have entertained the slightest doubt of God’s willingness to try again to deliver His fitting solution to Mother’s need? How absolutely, incredibly good He is!

            Many who know the Lord will attest that His blessing sometimes comes with an extra, added bonus; a cherry on the sundae. Mother’s bonus was a blessing contained within the blessing.

            As Mr. DeAngelo began the extensive remodeling project he had planned for the old homestead, it became apparent that Mother had not been its sole occupant. An army of hungry termites had severely weakened most of the first floor framework necessitating the razing of the entire structure – all the way down to the ground level.

 

            But Mr. DeAngelo assured Mother, throughout her repeated, heartfelt apologies, not to be concerned at all because he was quite satisfied to have acquired a building site with a finished foundation, complete with water, sewer, electricity, and telephone service; all ready for hookup.

            Had someone other than a building contractor purchased her home, Mother likely would have been required by law to take it back, and consequently suffer enormous financial and personal loss.

 

A God of Impossibilities

            We learned two of valuable lessons through this incredible experience:

  1. As the apostle Paul wrote, we should “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
  2.  That when it becomes clear that God has begun to move on our behalf, that we must get out of the way and allow Him to complete what we’ve asked Him to do – that He may achieve it in His way, in His time, on His terms!

             Our Omnipotent Heavenly Father is so caring, so powerful, so resourceful that there is no problem too small, no obstacle too great for Him to manage. And as my Uncle Earl used to say, “Nothing can possibly happen to me today that God isn’t able to handle for me!”

Amen, Uncle Earl!   You can take that to the Bank – the Bank of Heaven!  That’s the Bank that requires noooo bailouts.   Amen!!