Do overs. Did you ever have “do overs” when you were a kid? A do over happens when you mess up on something and want to start all over again as if it were the first time. We were once playing spades, and everyone agreed their hand was horrible. My sister called for a “do over.” We were all relieved, shuffled the cards, and started over again. No big deal. When I began to play golf, I learned that golf had do overs that are called “mulligans.” Unfortunately we were only allowed two mulligans per game. I really needed about ten or twenty, but the two I used were always greatly appreciated. I would duff a fairway shot that would have ruined a hole, but then I would simply call for my mulligan. I would drop a ball on the fairway and act as if I had never hit the previous shot.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we had do overs, or mulligans in real life? You respond inappropriately to your wife’s frustration. As the blow up is about to happen, you call for a mulligan. Suddenly, it is as if nothing had been said, and with some deep thought, you make a loving and supportive response. You make a bad call at work that has huge negative results, but then you just call for a do over. The negative financial impact on your business is erased, and everyone is smiling once again. You think back to the sins of a few years ago that hurt those you love and care for and call for a do over. Everyone suddenly forgets the dumb things you did, and life moves forward with no consequences for your sin.

Unfortunately, mulligans are restricted to golf. Do overs do not really work in life. While we demonstrate love and grace toward one another, it is impossible to carry on as if our words or actions had never happened. It is difficult sometimes to bear the sorrow that comes with our sin and thoughtless deeds. Thankfully, God is gracious, and He helps us to overcome our failures. He even uses our failures to teach us important things about life and about Himself. The best thing, however, is to avoid the acts or words that later bring regret.
One thing I am trying to learn is to think before I act or speak. I have had too many experiences in life that needed the non-existent mulligan. Therefore, I want to carefully think through my actions before being performed and words before they are spoken. There are always consequences that can be avoided by simply not doing the caustic act. With God’s help, and with the self-control that comes as a fruit of the Spirit, our lives really can reflect the grace and presence of God.

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