One Nail Day this summer, we had everyone write “re” words on the whiteboard.
Then, Barbara wrote, “Re-do.”
“It’s a do-over,” she said. “Everybody needs a do-over sometime.” We laughed. Somebody imagined a do-over magic wand you could wave at a situation that’s quickly going south and shout, “Do-Over!” Somebody else said she wanted a re-do for her whole life. Barbara’s idea could be like a Get Out of Jail Free card in monopoly. You wait until things get really bad, play your card, and go on your way. But I think Jesus has a better deal in mind.
There is the re-do of forgiveness. That our sins are truly and absolutely “washed away”. Then, there is the do-over of Grace. That Jesus Christ’s unconditional love forgives and chooses to forget. Simply put, there is no red X through any of our names. His love has erased them all. In every individual situation – and in our whole lives – we truly get a do-over.
Jesus first comes with a re-do for our hearts. He Remakes. Restores. Revives. Redirects. He replaces pain and rage with healing and trust. He resurrects our true selves….the God-breathed self we were each created to be from the beginning.
Then, He gives us a do-over. A chance to steadily change and grow and become our true selves, a chance to forgive ourselves and others and become a re-creation.
The world, our friends and family, our debt-to-income ratio, legal problems or even unpaid parking tickets may not forgive OR forget. Of course, the debt may need to be paid, dollar-by-dollar. Institutions and people may not recognize the re-do of Jesus. We all have “a past” before Jesus. For friends in the Tenderloin, that past may be littered with the debris of generations of violence, poverty, addiction and chaos. Some speak of jobs lost and marriages destroyed. Others remember children taken by Child Protective Services during years of addiction or mental illness.
A couple of months ago, one woman (we’ll call her J.) whispered to me that she was “going home to North Dakota.” Her estranged mother was ill and she had decided to risk everything and try for a do-over.
“I was sorta wild,” she said. Sorta wild? Whoa…that was an understatement! I’d known J. on the streets for more than year. When I first met her, she wore gold sequined tube dresses and stilettos, living on the street using crack and meth. When she was in gold, she stayed high and linked up with the wildest, scariest men. I worried for her safety non-stop.
Then, J. would “have a moment” (as she called it) and suddenly the gold tube dress was gone and she’d be wearing a long black skirt and a black scarf. This was her “trying Jesus again” attire. When she was in black, she would talk about how she had burned bridges with her entire family. “I’d like to go home, but I can’t,” she would say.
This past spring, her “trying Jesus again” was more than an outfit. She started going to bible study and would show up at our Chit Chat Café discipleship group at The Well. That is when she shared with me her plans to head to North Dakota and take care of her aging, sick mother.
“Do you think she’ll accept your help?” I asked. She shrugged. J had been turned away more than once. Her family knew the “gold sequined girl” all too well. “I’ve been clean for 4 weeks,” she said. “I want to try again with my family.”
We talked about Jesus “making all things new.” The ultimate re-do – complete with a wiped-clean record. Wrongs forgiven. Do-overs welcome. She smiled because she truly believed Jesus had made her new. She knew He believed in do-overs. But, would her family?
Two weeks later, she asked for a bag and a hoodie for the bus. With bags packed and some debts paid, she planned to pick up her Greyhound ticket for Sioux Falls and board the bus early the next morning. She still wasn’t sure her mother would believe she had changed or be willing to risk having her close again, but she longed so strongly for that do-over that she had to take the risk.
“GO!” I said. “You deserve a second chance.” As we hugged I said, “I NEVER want to see your face here again, girl.” She laughed. “I’m serious,” I whispered. “Go and have a life!”
The next morning I woke praying that J. would be gone, praying that I would not see her at her usual place along the sidewalk.
I didn’t. She was gone. She had risked a lot and had accepted Jesus’s re-do. Now, she would find out if she could have a do-over with her family as well.
Because Justice Matters believes in the God of re-do’s, of redemption and healing. To learn more about how you can get involved with BJM click here.