By Bob Bunn
To be honest, I’m not much of a golfer. I enjoy playing, but I’m just not very good. In fact, I rarely venture off a local par-3 course because I’m kind of intimidated by the prospects of water hazards, sand traps, and long par-5s. Back when I played more consistently (and was taking lessons), I was much more confident. These days, though, I know my limitations.
One thing I especially appreciate about golf is something called a “mulligan.” Simply put, a mulligan is an unwritten rule that gives you a second chance after a bad shot. If you send a ball into the water or land in the wrong fairway, a mulligan lets you try again. It’s a do-over. Normally, you only get one per round, but I’ve been known to stretch that a bit. Like I said, I’m not very good, and I need all the help I can get.
Of course, mulligans extend farther than your local golf course. In every area of life, we’re all looking for grace. Since we’re human, we all make mistakes, and we all need second chances. That’s especially true in our relationship with God. From the moment we enter this world, we’re wired to rebel against Him. That rebellion is called “sin,” and it puts us at odds with the perfect character of the God who loves us and created us.
For generations, Ezekiel’s audience had rejected God and ignored the warnings of His prophets. They had a long history of worshiping false gods and treating others with contempt. Eventually, God acted. He hid His face from His people (Ezekiel 39:23) and allowed them to go into Babylonian captivity.
Thankfully, while God’s righteousness demands justice, His mercy also allows a mulligan.
Once the nation’s punishment was complete, God promised to stop hiding His face (v.29). He started using hopeful words like “restore” (v.25) and “gather” (v.27). He guaranteed that no one would be left behind (v. 28). Every one of His children would be included. They would still make mistakes, but they were getting another chance.
What’s more, that chance would resonate through the nations. God’s people would know Him better, but the people around them would also recognize both His holiness and His grace. In Israel and around the world, He would be glorified.
You might be looking for a mulligan in your own life. If so, you don’t have to look far because this season of reflection reminds us that God is still in the business of grace and mercy. He’s still eager to restore and redeem. All you need to do is ask. Second chances are what He’s all about.