As each year draws to a close it’s natural to reflect on the past and wonder what we might have done differently to make the current year better than it ended up being.

On the other hand, it’s good also to look ahead to the year that is soon to arrive. We can see the possibilities and potential that the new calendar brings. With it comes the promise of a new start, a renewed focus on what’s important and—for those whose current year maybe did not end on the best of notes—the new year offers a second chance.

There’s something very enticing about the invitation to enjoy a second chance. It implies that your past mistakes can be forgotten. It implies that your previous crimes can be pardoned and your past misdeeds forgiven. Every criminal who goes before a judge begs and pleads for a second chance. Some judges yield, others are stone-hearted.

God is merciful, however, and for all those who go to Him desiring a second chance, one will be given. We do not need to wonder if He’s “feeling generous today” or if “he’s in a bad mood right now.” Our Father in Heaven is even-keel. He has a solid set of rules that He governs by, so that His children (humanity) can know exactly what is expected of them and what is forbidden. When we do what we should not, the Father has every (legal) reason to punish us.

And yet, He offers us a second chance.

Life through His Son will undo a lifetime of sin and rebellion. It’s a free gift; we only need to take it. Be thankful that your Father in Heaven is merciful. Be thankful your Father in Heaven is forgiving. Be thankful your Father in Heaven offers you a second chance.