Failure is inevitable in life. No one is exempt. At times we fail in small personal ways and other times in lasting permanent ways. Sometimes our failures alter the rest of our lives. They change the course of our future. Do you have a failure like that? Does it still define you? The nature of failure is that it is meant to create an opportunity for us to choose a different path – to recognize our mistake and try again. The nature of humans is quite often to use failure to define ourselves and others. We make failure our identity despite other successes.
What a tragic thing if we were to fail and lose the hope of ever rectifying our mistakes. What a hopeless future if failure defined us forever. We all need hope for second chances. We need to know that others can still have confidence in us even when we blow it. Goodness knows that without hope of a second chance, people give up trying and failure becomes their destiny.
In the state of Texas, high school football on Friday night is about as important as being in the church pew on Sunday morning. It is the focus and passion of small town life. Last year there was an unusual football game played in Grapevine, Texas. The showdown was between Grapevine Faith Academy and Gainesville State School. One school is a faith-based school and the other operates within a maximum security correction facility.
Gainesville State School had a team of 14 players. They have to play every game on the road and all of their players have been convicted of serious crimes from assault and battery to robbery. Most of the teens have been disowned by their families. They have outdated equipment and at the time of this story their record for the year was 0-8. Faith Academy’s record was 7-2. They had 70 players, 11 coaches, and the best equipment available.
Realizing the dramatic difference between the two teams and how discouraging it must be to play under such conditions, Coach Hogan, head coach at Faith Academy, had an idea. He sent out an email to the team, cheerleaders, and fans asking half of them to cheer and support the Gainesville team. “Here’s the message I want you to send (to the Gainesville team),” Hogan wrote. “You’re just as valuable as any other person on the planet.”
The idea was a bit confusing and certainly unorthodox. One player said, “Coach, why are we doing this?” Hogan said, “Imagine you don’t have a home life, no one to love you, no one pulling for you. Imagine that everyone pretty much had given up on you. Now, imagine what it would feel like and mean to you for hundreds of people to suddenly believe in you.”
With a little imagination the idea took root. Watch what happened…
After the game, Isaiah, the teenage convict-quarterback surprised everybody and asked if he could pray. He said, “Lord, I don’t know what just happened so I don’t know how or who to say thank you to, but I never knew there were so many people in the world who cared about us.” On the way back to the bus, under guard, each one of the players was handed a burger, fries, a coke, candy, a Bible, and an encouraging letter from the players at Faith Academy.
We all need a second chance. We need to believe that people will let us change; we need to know that they believe we can. We all need hope that things can be different. This is the way of Goodness – letting people start over after failure. Consider someone you know how needs a second chance right now and give it to them. Maybe that someone is you.
“My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.”
We all need second chances. Goodness gives them...