We all need a mulligan.

You may have heard about the man who woke up one day to discover his name printed in the obituary column. All day long people called to offer their sympathy to his family. Finally, in exasperation, the man called the newspaper to complain. They were quite apologetic, and the editor promised she would print a correction. Sure enough, the next day the man opened the paper and found his name printed in the birth announcements.

Wouldn’t it be nice to start over that easily?

In golf, if the game is casual and among friends, you might be allowed what is called a “mulligan” when you really mess up a shot. It means you get to take the shot over without penalty.

A mulligan is an act of grace in an otherwise unforgiving game. Think for just a moment about what area of your life, what event, what mistake for which you would like a mulligan. There is not one of us that doesn’t need a “do over,” a second, third, or fourth chance to get it right. Jesus comes to us offering forgiveness and abundant grace.

In their wonderful book If Grace is True, Quaker writers Philip Gulley and James Mulholland describe heaven as the place where we shall be seated at the table of grace between two distinct people. On one side will be seated the person we most need to forgive, and on the other the person from whom we most need forgiveness.

Most of us probably spend a lot more time thinking about the people who have hurt, betrayed or offended us that we need to forgive than people who need to forgive us. You probably have serveral people that you just can’t bring yourself to forgive. It takes courage and determination to let go of those wounds and hurt and ask God to give you the grace, courage and spiritual resources to release those folks.

But I wonder if we have the same courage and honesty to make a list of those who need to forgive us? I’ll bet we are not even aware of those we have hurt or offended.

Today, as we begin this fourth week of Lent, perhaps it would serve our spirits well to sit for a moment and ponder those who need to forgive us. That list may just humble us enough to open our lives to the redemption and transformation for which we all long.

Don’t let the cancer of regret and shame eat away your soul. There is a world out there that needs forgiveness. There are souls starving for the grace of God, and God has just the person to feed them. A prodigal, a mulligan, a saint like you.

About Norman Bendroth

Norman Bendroth is a Professional Transition Specialist certified by the Interim Ministry Network. He has served as a settled pastor in two United Church of Christ congregations and as a Sr. Interim pastor in seven other UCC congregations. He was also an executive for three different non-profit agencies. He has had additional training in Mediation Skills for Church Leaders from the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center and training in Appreciative Inquiry from the Clergy Leadership Institute. Rev. Bendroth has the M.Div. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and his D. Min. from Andover Newton Theological school where he concentrated on theology and systems theory. He is married to Peggy Bendroth and has two adopted Amerasian children.
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