I am watching the Olympics on Monday night. The track and field events begin to air. Up next is the 110 meter hurdles. The runners are getting set. They crouch into position. The camera zooms on various athletes as they raise their bodies up. The starter says “sets” then shoots the gun to begin the race. Immediately, a second shot goes off. There is a false start.
The replay is not necessary to see who started early. Wilhelm Belocian from France goes over the first hurdle before kicking down the second one. You can see the exasperation on his body as he realizes that his Olympic dreams are over. He has been disqualified from this event. Cameras show him laying on the ground completely crushed as the reality sets in. The rules of the Olympic Games dictate that a false start eliminates an athlete from completion. There is no second chance. There is no redo. It is over.
I cannot imagine the agony for this man. He has trained for years to get to this one moment. Hours and hours have been spent running in all conditions for the one chance to compete for his nation. At his national trials, he beat out numerous countrymen for this opportunity. The buildup. The work. The sacrifice. The excitement that flowed through his body must have been electric as his name was called, “In lane 3, Belocian from France.” Then, in a second, he is in defeat without even a chance to run. For the rest of his life he will remember this moment.
Oh, if only an official came over and said, “You made a mistake. It happens to everyone. We are going to give you a second chance. Get back in the block and let’s try again.” This would be a glorious moment. Some would say this is unfair. He blew his chance. Others would celebrate it as a tremendous display of grace to an athlete simply wanting to do his best. If such a chance was given, it would have been life-changing for the hurdler. He would have been more careful, focused, and appreciative of the chance to compete again. Regardless of the outcome, he would have returned home to his nation with pride knowing that he gave it his all. He would have basked in the grace.
Not having a second chance eliminated this.
I am thankful that the Olympic rules do not apply to my spiritual life. God is not a one and done God. He does not say, “You have one shot at this. If you mess up you are done.” In the midst of my failure, He comes over and says, “Ok, that was not good. You shouldn’t have done that. Now, let’s try again and get it right this time.” He is gracious. He is patient. And He loves to give second chances. To be honest, He has given me hundreds of chances in some areas. And for this I am thankful. It encourages me to be more focused in these areas. I sit back and bask in His grace.