I Want a "Do Over"

New beginnings. Fresh starts. Clean slates. Second chances. We love ‘em all. They carry so much promise; they —give us so much hope. If we blow it today, we can start again tomorrow. We conclude that the answer to yesterdays failure is today’s success. If I preached a bad sermon this past Sunday I can fix my sense of failure by preaching a great sermon next Sunday.

In many ways, all of our striving under this performance idol is a grown-up re-creation of the adolescent playground cry: “I want a do-over!” Have you ever heard that? Watch children playing a game at a park like football or basketball. Maybe somebody messed up the opening kick. Maybe they weren’t sure the ball stayed in bounds or not. So somebody proclaims, “Do-over!” And they start over. They have to get it right. They want the bad play erased and replaced by the good play.

We’re still doing this into our adult years, trying to manage our lives in some bizarre system of spiritual checks and balances, trying to outweigh our bad plays with our “do-overs.”

When we worship at the altar of performance we spend our lives frantically propping up our images or reputations, trying to do it all—and do it all well—often at a cost to ourselves and those we love. Life becomes a hamster wheel of endless earning and proving and maintenance and management and controlling, where all we can see is our own feet. We live in a constant state of anxiety, fear, and resentment until we end up heavily medicated, in the hospital, or just really, really unhappy.

So what’s the answer to this enslaving addiction that plagues us all?

The gospel of grace.

The gospel is God’s announcement to failing people like you and me that we are now free from the slavery of “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” We don’t have to put all our weight into the do-over. We can put it on Jesus. Because Jesus succeeded for me, I’m free to follow with abandon and fail without fear.


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