You live in a house for years. You grow up in that house. And then the day comes that you never imagined as a kid. It becomes your responsibility to clean every last possession out of that house and give the keys to a realtor. Your parents are both deceased at this point. There is no need to keep the family home.
And of course, the memories flood your mind. Images of bicycles piled in the front yard are vivid. The music of 1973 is heard once again in the living room. An encounter with your father after a teenage exploit is recalled. Other voices from the past are quite clear. The aroma of a favorite childhood meal fills the air. I experienced such memories with Doug last night.
Doug is one of my childhood friends. He sat faithfully with his mother this week in a hospice facility until she drew her final breath on the afternoon of July 4th. And now, he is facing the task of selling the home that his family moved into in 1967. I empathize deeply with him. I encountered that same responsibility following my mother’s death in 1991.
Last night we sat in the living room and played the same tunes from the early ‘70’s that once blared from state of the art Marantz quadraphonic speakers. In 1973, such stereo components were the envy of the neighbors! Jim Croce reminded us of his desire to save time in a bottle. Bad, bad Leroy Brown once again haunted the streets. And Boston urged us not to look back! The stories of childhood antics went well into the night.
In the midst of the reminiscing, Doug made a profound comment. He said: “I have been given so many second chances in life.” We reflected on several of those second chances last night. I was immediately reminded of the countless second chances I have been given as well. And I was also prompted to think that a second chance is not a one-time event. Recalling the second chances we have been entrusted with is an important type of reflection.
“I have been given a second chance.” That’s not exactly true. Doug’s choice of language is actually correct. “I have been given so many second chances in life.” What will I do with it? How will that shape my life? And how will that determine the manner in which I treat other people? Do I extend mercy or judgement?
I am actually a firm believer in the providence of God. God orchestrates events in our lives for a purpose. My prayer is that I can use the renewed opportunities He has given me to help others. May I extend mercy and not judgment to those who are struggling, because I know fully well that I have been given many second chances since Marantz quadraphonic speakers were the latest and greatest electronic innovation. When Doug locks the door of his childhood home one final time, he will walk away knowing there was no shortage of second chances within the confines of those walls. And I will join him in giving thanks.