I was about five years old, and it was summer in Minnesota. Brother Hahn was a loving, retired minister who attended the church my parents pastored at the time. And that summer he invited us to go fishing with him at the lake where they had a lake house. Dad agreed, and we went fishing.
Brother Hahn had grandkids. So that meant he also had gear for kids to go fishing. He had one of those orange, U-shaped life vests. And he had one of those short, two-foot kids’ fishing rod and reel combos. I was in hog heaven sitting in the middle of that boat between my Dad and Brother Hahn. We were catching bluegills, having ourselves the time we had dreamed of when the invitation was extended to us.
That is, till it happened. I don’t remember exactly how it happened. I just remember that it did. With my hands, and therefore most of the rod and reel over the edge of the boat, I lost my grip on Brother Hahn’s rod and reel which he had for his grandkids to use.
I experienced something of which it might be my first memory… forgiveness. Bro. Hahn was probably disappointed, maybe even frustrated, but he never showed it. He told me everything would be alright, and that I shouldn’t worry about it. We enjoyed the rest of the trip, but it seemed slightly tainted with my mistake… at least in my mind.
A number of months later, Brother Hahn came up to us at church and invited us to go fishing with him again. I was surprised that he would want the kid who lost his grandkids’ fishing rod to go fishing with him again. But Dad agreed, and we went to the lake again.
And then I experienced something else, possibly for the first time… grace. When we arrived at the boat, Brother Hahn said something along the lines of, “Here, Allen, you use this one.” To my amazement, he held in his extended hand the very rod and reel I had lost while fishing on the previous trip. He had fished in that spot long after our first trip… hooked something… reeled it in… only to discover he had caught the rod and reel I accidentally dropped overboard. It was dirty, and so he had meticulously cleaned it up, oiled it, put new line on it… and purposely invited me to fish with it again. Grace.
I was scared to use that rod and reel. I was also extra careful to hold tightly to it. When extended that rod… and thereby grace… to me, I was determined not to make the same mistake.
What shocked me, though, was that he was willing to let me try again. I was just a little kid. I could have dropped it overboard again. But he didn’t seemed to be phased by that at all. He believed in me. And he believed in second chances.
Let me just say… Brother Hahn was so much like God. God is not afraid to give us second chances. We make mistakes. We goof up. We even sometimes just flat out choose to do wrong. But in His love and grace, He simply catches what we dropped overboard, cleans it up, hands it back to us, and says, “Here, try again.”
So no matter what you’ve done… no matter how bad you think it is… no matter how little right you have to be invited again, accept the invitation. Try again. And this time hold it a little more carefully. This time, honor the extended grace by using what has been lent to you to bring great joy to the One who gives it to you. Try again!