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The Yearly Second Chance
by Ray Haynes
God has placed a road sign on a dark road to nowhere that whispers, “It’s never too late.”
She sat by herself with earbuds in, her body shaking as she cried. It seemed like no one else noticed. She needed comfort, but she clearly wanted to be alone. Before long she was gone. A few weeks passed, and she was back. Several people asked her where she’d been; she said nothing at first, then, “I had an abortion. I didn’t want to say anything because I know you guys would have opinions about that.” She explained, “My boyfriend paid for it. I didn’t have any choice.
I have so many debts and I’m not making any money. I thought about it for three weeks and made up my mind.” She went to the clinic and they gave her pills to take and then she waited. They said she wouldn’t even see “it”. When it happened, it would literally be gone in a flush. But that’s not what happened.
That’s when her tears began. “I held it in my hands. Its heart was beating.” The tears turned to sobs. “I sat there watching its heart beat, and then it stopped. I didn’t know what to do. And now I can’t forgive myself.” She also couldn’t stop weeping or shaking. One of the ones she thought would condemn her asked, “You know God loves you?” She nodded slowly as her tears fell to the floor, as if she wanted to believe that if God was real He could find a way to still love her; and that could mean there was a way back from this place, but she couldn’t quite accept that it was possible. There are few words that can penetrate an overwhelmed heart, and there are never enough tears to wash away the stains that matter.
I met him when his scars had healed and God was real to him. He had a joy that didn’t seem at home with his past. He told stories of tragedy, one right after the other. He had no fond memories of his childhood, not even one. His father sold him to groups of men, in dark foul places. They could do anything to him that they wanted. His father told them so. The memories reached back decades, but they were fresh with details as if they happened last week. Sometimes his father would promise him they were going somewhere special. His hopes would soar, but eventually the road would lead to a shadowy place where cruel men were waiting. He knew his father didn’t love him. His father told him so. By the time he escaped from his father’s abuse, he was selling himself to men, and his journey grew darker by the day. There was never any hope in sight, but still love was following him. Healing was pursuing.
“In the first month of the second year after they had come out of the land of Egypt, the Lord said: “Let the children of Israel keep the Passover at its appointed time”. Now there were certain men who were defiled by a human corpse, so that they could not keep the Passover on that day…Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘If anyone of you or your posterity is unclean because of a corpse, or is far away on a journey, he may still keep the Lord’s Passover. On the fourteenth day of the second month, at twilight, they may keep it.” Numbers 9
Chances are you have never heard of Second Passover. Most calendars note when Passover arrives, so we can remember when the lamb was slain and the Israelites went free. It’s also when Jesus was crucified as the Lamb of God, so that mankind could be set free from sin. But calendars never mention Second Passover. Yet, it occurs each year, exactly one month after Passover. In Hebrew it’s called Pesach Sheni. This year it begins in the evening of Tuesday, May 9 and ends in the evening of Wednesday, May 10. It’s an obscure grace-filled festival established by God for those who have traveled down a road of death or pain and loss. They are all alone in a crowd. Life has left them ineligible to take part in the things that matter most.
God has placed a road sign on a dark road to nowhere that whispers, “It’s never too late.” The Second Passover opens the door to Teshuvah – the power of return. Teshuvah is often translated as repentance, but it is much more than changing behaviors or receiving forgiveness. It’s the power to go back in time and redefine the past. It’s when God climbs down into the deepest pit to show us the way out. He alone can make a failure powerless to control our future. It’s a prodigal experience, an encounter with death that can arouse a striving for life, or a reckless journey down a distant road that can awaken an unquenchable yearning for home. God restores us, not to brand new, but so that we are scarred and stronger because of our failure and His redemption.
The normal Passover is followed by a seven-day festival, Unleavened Bread, while the Second Passover is just a single day. Seven days represents life as a holy walk – living in what Jesus has done for us. As we walk in Christ, the Bread of Life, we demonstrate a continuous keeping of this feast. The Second Passover, one month later, is only one day, and leaven is not forbidden. It’s a very different Passover. It’s ready-made for those who have become too impure for a holy walk. They can’t keep the normal feast, because life has turned them into leaven.
Second Passover is an encounter with the God who washes the feet of His betrayer. The God who doesn’t shrink back from our leprosy, because His touch can make anyone and anything whole. Being raised to life with Jesus means our old leavened life is over. The pain and impurity have been replaced – Christ now lives His life in us. Teshuvah is the promise from God that the past does not determine the future. The cross can be difficult to understand, right up to the moment it meets your every need.
“Surely He took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered Him punished by God, stricken by Him, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:4-5