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Topic: Learning for Life (08/23/04)
TITLE: The "Do Over"
By John Hunt
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They were famous names - names like Billy Anderson and Tommy Wilson, Michael Patterson and Robbie Walker. We were all friends, to one degree or another, and we all played together. Nary a day would go by when some grand adventure didn’t take place in the field across the way, or when some epic battle of wills was not forged in the deep backyards of our homes.
I can’t recall the first neighborhood game that I ever played in. Nor do I even remember exactly what kind of game that was. I do, however, recall the countless hours sitting on the sidelines, watching my brothers play as I waited for my coming of age. I would often gaze in awe as Billy Anderson would hit a baseball longer than I could see, or as Robbie Walker would throw a perfect spiral. When I finally did ebb into middle childhood, I was quickly indoctrinated into the peculiar bylaws of our provisional backyard games.
I was a clumsy neophyte in my very first football game that summer. The makeshift football field was void of any yardage markings, goalposts or actual end zones. This didn’t hinder my excitement any. I was in the pros, playing with the big kids, albeit subjugated to the rough-hewn offensive line. Wide-eyed and unfamiliar with the rules, I errantly tackled my own teammate on third and, well – whatever the distance was to that stick in the nearby grass. This did not go over too well with my comrades, as you can well imagine.
“No fair!” the boy shouted. “He doesn’t know the rules. Do over!”
Do over: probably two of the most beautiful words in the English language. Now, those not well versed in the peculiar vernacular of American childhood may not be familiar with this particular term. Simply put, when the “do over” is invoked, it renders the immediately preceding course of events null and void. The power of the “do over,” though often misused and overused, could be implored at almost any moment and in any situation where the outcome of untoward events seemed inequitable. Of course, said circumstances were often subject to dispute. However, the “do over” was usually granted to the requesting team, with the understanding that the privilege would be reciprocal, of course. I don’t recall the exact outcome of that particular “do over,” but from that day forward, the “do over” became a near and dear friend to me.
Upon entering the harsh reality of adulthood, most of us forget about the games of early childhood and the adolescent notion that we can simple start over when things do not go our way. Actions have consequences, and we learn that our decisions, good or bad, usually cannot be undone. Poor career choices, bad financial decisions, relationship conflicts – we’ve all had them. As the daily tensions of life add up, we often want to scream at the top of our lungs with unmitigated fervor, “Do over!”
While it is true that we cannot undo the consequences of our life decisions, we can, in essence, have a second chance at life. The Bible says that whoever is in Christ is a new creation (2 Corinthians 5: 17), the old has passed away and the new has come. This new creation doesn’t manifest itself in a new outward appearance, but rather is a transformation of our true self; it is a result of being born of the Spirit (John 3:3-6).
When we are born of the Spirit, our old self, shackled with a lifetime of disobedience and rejection of God, is essentially wiped away. In the eyes of Christ, it is as if we never committed the offense. Through all of the life lessons that we learn, the greatest of these is this. While we cannot relive or undo the past, we can begin anew - courtesy of the spiritual “do over.”