With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord: “He is good; his love toward Israel endures forever.” (Ezra 3:11)

AS A TEACHER, I GAVE my students a chance to raise their test averages. If they made a poor grade on a test, they had the option of retaking an alternate form of that test. I encouraged them to study hard and promised them that the second test score would count if it were higher, giving them hope for a fresh start.

The Jews had failed to serve God and had been in captivity in another land. Perhaps, like my students, they found themselves in a seemingly bleak situation. But the Lord gave them another chance by moving the heart of the Persian king to let them go back to Jerusalem if they chose. Some accepted this invitation to start over and wanted to return to their God-given patterns of worship. They put him first by building an altar and by honoring the various offerings and the holy days.

They had known life without God, so when the Jews laid the temple foundation, they showed the joy typical of a new beginning. Their joy was about both a fresh start and a Lord who loved them so much that he gave them another chance.

This same opportunity to begin again is available to us through Christ. Redemption and forgiveness is who God is, and if our hearts are truly repentant, we can turn to him to find our second chance.

Do not let past failures blind you to the opportunity to start over.

Edwin Wiles is a retired science instructor from Kernersville Wesleyan and Surry Community Colleges. He enjoys his wife and family, reading, photography, gardening, and his church family.

© 2018 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission.