I suddenly felt his hand appear on the low of my back. It slid slowly done my spine and rested there gently as we made our way down the frozen food aisle. Just an ordinary day of typical grocery shopping, yet when his warm palm rested in the curve of my spine I felt extraordinary. I felt special, I felt blessed, I felt loved. How in the world a simple gesture like a hand on my back could almost bring me to my knees, I do not know. But it did serve to remind me how fortunate I was to have found the man God had for me.
It had not always been this way. I can remember over a decade ago crying on the phone long distance with my father. He was angry, the stuttering kind, where I could feel a steely sadness mixed with rage as it dripped from his words.
“Don’t be mad at him, Daddy,” I begged.
I still wanted to protect the man who had made me cry. I still loved him. And even though for the past year I had pretended things weren’t falling apart beneath my feet, I had to face the reality that they had finally shattered. The ground on which I stood had not only shaken, but the rug had been pulled completely out. I was getting a divorce.
“He said he doesn’t love me anymore, Daddy,” I had cried into the landline receiver.
I don’t believe in divorce, which is incredibly ironic considering I am a divorced woman. I never believed in it. I never wanted it for my life, and I never believed it would happen to me. Until it did. One day you find yourself walking into a church building, broken on the inside, smiling on the outside, hoping no one is looking at you like you are afraid they are. Like you’re wearing The Scarlet D. The shame of a failed marriage slung around your neck like an albatross, a constant reminder and self-inflicted punishment for not making your relationship work.
I can remember as an 8-year-old first discovering the stigma surrounding divorce. My Mother had found a wonderful man to marry, one who wouldn’t leave us repeatedly, penniless and in peril. A man who loved her, but who also loved me. An honest man, a selfless man, a Kinsman Redeemer to take us into a home of love. I remember watching my mother cry on the edge of her bed when she thought I wasn’t there. My soon-to-be, adoptive Dad’s lifelong preacher had refused to marry him to my Mom, because of the sin of her prior divorce.
One day in your life you come to realize that God isn’t like man, that God isn’t religion, but that He is relationship. You realize that though the Lord gives laws to guide us, He doesn’t cut us off when we fall. His loving forgiveness and redemptive power carry us. He is a God of second chances. He is a God who makes all things new.
In the midst of my divorce, I can remember sitting in a small, guest bedroom at my parent’s house holding my cat. I had traveled a thousand miles with her and some boxes. I had no job, no home, and no husband. I had none of the things I had thought so important six months prior. In the middle of brokenness, you can feel forgotten, condemned, hopeless, helpless, and without a chance for future happiness. But God.
God can bring beauty from ashes, perhaps even a prince to replace a frog. When my marriage failed I felt like it was all on me. Did I really like to cuddle too much, or overuse the phrase, I love you? I felt like I had messed up my chance for happiness, that I had disappointed God, that I had made mistakes that I couldn’t come back from. Honestly, I made a lot of mistakes in my first marriage, but God likes to use beautiful messes for His glory I’ve learned. I had no idea that God could bring me happiness after I had broken a covenant I made under Him. I didn’t realize He could redeem my mistakes, change my life, and bring me the utmost happiness He had in mind for me all along. Yet He did.
Eleven years ago had you told me a hand on my back could bring me such contentment, I might have laughed. I never knew love could be like that. I never knew you could share so intimately or understand another person so completely. I didn’t foresee the deep, caring relationship God had in mind for a sinner like me. I didn’t know He would not only give me a second chance at love, but also a second chance to see Him more clearly through the eyes of a covenant relationship with my spouse as we both served the Lord completely and totally. Like Eve, I had fallen, and it had thrown my life into darkness and shame. I covered my nakedness with all the wrong things for my own 2,000 years. But then He brought a New Covenant. A fresh start to truly love and be loved. Some may call it heresy. Others will call it grace. I call it redeemed.
God is a God of second chances. He brought Jesus to give the world a second chance, and He is here now to give all sinners a second chance, to take away your sin and make you new. It’s never too late to take [hold] of your second chance life.