Several years ago we were contacted about an American Eskimo Spitz that was in a high kill shelter and scheduled to be put down. The breed was one in which I was well acquainted having been my grandmother's chosen dog when I was a child. We were told that this dog was "vicious" and "beyond hope". Not willing to accept this verdict, my husband and I drove two hundred miles to pick the dog up. As we were greeted by the folks from the shelter we were told, "This dog is loco. We have it crated and will not put our hands in to remove it. Let's back our crate to yours and let him run into it." They went on to inform us that because he was such a loud, obnoxious barker he was equipped with his own bark collar as an added bonus. I was sickened by their lack of compassion as well as their lack of education.
Upon arriving home with "Puff", I spoke gently to him as I opened his crate. I calmly reached inside and pulled him out. As soon as he was out, I took the bark collar off of him. He licked my face with gratitude. (Because Puff had been sentenced to wear this collar even while he was in the shelter, each time a human appeared in the dog yard sending ALL the dogs into a wild frenzy, a squealing noise went off in his ears. Thus, he associated humans with the noise and the pain it caused. Therefore, he had been aggressive towards shelter workers.)
Because of our hope of what Puff could become, we gave him a second chance and were able to see him reach his potential. He went from death row to our foster home to his furr-ever home. Mercy was granted.
Former Mississippi Governor, Haley Barbour, has made national headlines this past week as he pardoned or granted clemency to near two hundred convicts on his last day in office. A firestorm of accusations and scorn has been far reached by his act. As Gov. Barbour explained, of this number 189 of these prisoners had already served their sentence and had been released. To them he was extending mercy - granting them a clean slate and hope for gainful employment. The remaining prisoners had worked as trustees at the governor's mansion during his eight year term. He felt that they had paid their dues and that they were redeemable. And so, he gave them back their lives with a second chance for a new start.
Is what Gov. Barbour did for these men and women much different than what Christ did for the entire world?
2 Corinthians 5:21 says, "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."
We deserved death for our sins. We deserved punishment and to be held accountable. But God saw something in us worth saving and to offer His creation a second chance, he sent His only Son to die in our place.
What are you doing with your second chance? Are you still living as a slave to sin and your past or as the new creation you became when you accepted Christ as your Savior?
John 8:36 says, "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."
Let go of yesterday and of who you were so that you can live in the fullness of the new life Christ died to give you.