Do you ever want a do-over? I sure do.
If I could press stop, rewind the tape, and record over that part where I hollered at my kids this morning, my guilt-o-meter might quit redlining. Or for the striped orange sweater I bought off the clearance rack with a no-returns policy—what was I thinking? Do-over, please! Oh, and let’s talk about that disaster of a nacho casserole I fed my husband last night. Yikes, I’d like a do-over for that one.
I pine for bigger do-overs, too. My first boyfriend, my seventh grade hairstyle, the entire summer of 1996.
We could make a lot of points here, like how our past mistakes build our present character, or “if only” regrets paralyze our well-being. But I’m going to park on this thought: we are given a do-over in Jesus.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
This week we will bake fudge, pile shiny packages under a tree, and buckle our kids into car seats for a trip to Grandma’s—all to celebrate the do-over of a lifetime, the birth of our Savior.
Baby Jesus is more than a tradition. He’s more than a timeless tale of angels, shepherds, and no room at the inn. This baby is a rescue mission from heaven.
Have you flagged it down yet? I’m not talking about religion. Maybe you go to church and follow all the rules. Or maybe Christmas is the only time of year you dip toes in a sanctuary, if at all. Doesn’t matter, not for today, not for the real meaning of Christmas.
The truth is, we’re all faulty. God, however, is perfect. To stand in his presence, we have to be perfect, too.
“For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it,” (James 2:10).
Ouch. You’re not perfect? Bummer, me either.
But Jesus is. He will take our place. He was born to live the perfect life for us—for me, for you—from his first breath in Bethlehem to his final cry on the cross. Christmas is God’s way of tossing us a rope.
Our job is to take it.
“Since we've compiled this long and sorry record as sinners. . . and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we're in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ,” (Romans 3:23–24 MSG).
Choose Jesus. Not our good behavior, not our religion, not a vague notion of how decent people all somehow get to heaven. Those ropes fray when we need them most.
Simply choose Jesus. Confess to him that you have issues. This news will not shock him. Ask him to take over your life. He’s so much better at running it than we are. Then trust that something new has begun in you—your big do-over.
From that moment on, when God looks at you, he’ll see Jesus inside. Perfect, holy, glorious Jesus. And your place in heaven is secure.
“He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life,” (1 John 5:12–13).
Think this is fanatic theology? I thought so, too. The day I turned my life over to Christ, I spoke to him in wishy-washy terms, doubts still clinging to my intellect.
“Well, Lord, they say this is supposed to work,” I said, “so, take it over.” I left off the words, “I dare you.” But that’s practically what I did. I challenged the Lord to prove his saving grace. And he did. He did.
For those who have already grasped this do-over—the family of believers—we are living proof that choosing Jesus works. Yes, we still have problems, we still mess up. Yet Jesus keeps reaching out his hand every day, showering us with enough fresh grace to cover a thousand hollering mommies and heartburn nacho casseroles.
We have real hope. That’s the purpose of Christmas.
On the other hand, if this devotion seems weird or preachy, I understand. Why not give God a try? He’ll accept your dare, and your doubts. You just might find they both wash away when you’re standing in his grace for the first time.
It’s Christmas, after all. The most wonderful time of the year—for starting over.