2 Chronicles 12:12 Because Rehoboam humbled himself, the Lord’s anger turned from him, and he was not totally destroyed. Indeed, there was some good in Judah.
The Bible is certainly a story of multiple chances. It makes it clear that it’s better to get things right the first time, but repentance brings redemption. There are indeed consequences to doing things wrong, as there were in this case, but acknowledging sin and turning from it is always the right thing to do. Sadly, there are those who count on that and take it for granted, not thinking about the fact that one of the chances they take will be their last. There are indeed deathbed conversions, but they are probably very few, and even such people have missed out on years of walking with the Lord. Jesus’ story of the Prodigal Son is justly famous, but there’s no question that son regretted what he had done. God always desires the very best for us, and the sooner we turn from being headstrong and self-centered, the more of that “best” we will enjoy.
Looking back over my own life, I see this truth demonstrated again and again. God has been incredibly gracious toward me, but my life would have been much easier had I chosen humble obedience more consistently. Right now I minister to people with all different levels of obedience to and/or rebellion against God. I can say to each one, with the assurance of experience, that the more we love God, demonstrating that love by our obedience, (John 14:15) the better things will be for us. God told Paul (while he was still Saul) that failure to submit and obey was like “kicking against the goads.” (Acts 26:14) The more stubbornly we insist on our own way and protest His correction, the more painful it is for us. I’ve tasted that, and I want to spare others from it. However, I can’t make their choices for them. I can speak the truth in love and I can pray for them, certainly, but ultimately the responsibility is theirs, and I’m not to try to carry it for them. That does neither of us any good.
Father, You know who is on my heart as I write. I do pray for them to see through the lies of the devil, each person and each lie, so that they may know Your truth indeed, not just as something abstract but as practical reality, so that they may be set free to walk in all that You have planned for them, for their blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!