Monday, March 21, 2022

Do Over

I remember when I went back to school to get a graduate degree. By then, I had four children, the youngest a toddler. I liked being an older student, but the challenge was balancing my time - an already scarce commodity. My grad program required lots of research and papers; I found I liked it. 

Have you ever typed a document and then lost it all? I have, and it was gut-wrenching. This paper was due in a month. So for the past month, I researched, outlined, and wrote notes. I kept track of my sources so they could be appropriately cited. Finally, on a Friday evening, I sat down to type. I powered up my computer, reviewed my notes, and started typing. My thoughts were flowing seamlessly, and I was pleased with the way my research came together. This is amazing! I'm going to ace this paper. But then something happened, and in an instant, all my hard work was gone. AARGH!!!!

Disbelief. Shock. Anger. Grief.

I had to start over. I regrouped and started typing again. I'd learn my lesson, so I frequently saved the document after every paragraph. But I also noticed that this time as I recreated, I had an opportunity to make the original better. And this time, after multiple saves and edits, I was (mostly) pleased with the finished version.

Moses received the words of God's covenant twice. The first time was approximately four months after the exodus from Egypt. The Israelites were in the Sinai desert discovering the character of God (Exodus 19). After receiving the ten commandments and sharing them with the Israelites, Moses went up to the mountain of God, where the Lord spoke to him for 40 days (Exodus 24:12-18). In that timeframe, he received detailed instructions from the Lord on offerings, consecration, and worship (Exodus 25 - 32). God established a covenant with his people and gave them his conditions and law through Moses. Apparently, Moses' time in the mountain was too long for the Israelites. They showed contempt for Moses and demanded Aaron build them a golden calf. After Moses' time communing with God and receiving His laws written on stone tablets, he was greeted with the Israelites worshipping a golden calf when he descended the mountain. Enraged, he smashed the tablets into the golden calf. Something happened! AARGH!!!

What caused the AARGH? In my case, it was a fluke or user error. In the case of the Israelites, it was all user error - they decided to worship a golden calf, convinced Aaron, and mocked Moses. Frustration and user error can have serious repercussions. But God is gracious.

Moses atoned on the people's behalf (Exodus 32:30) and spent another 40 days and nights in Mount Sinai with God (Exodus 34:28). The Lord said to Moses, "Cut two stone tablets like the first ones, and I will write on them the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke (Exodus 34:1). After their great sin with the golden calf (Exodus 32), Moses interceded for Israel, Israel repented, and God restored. It was appropriate to give them new stone tablets. A do-over, a rewrite with lots of disbelief, shock, anger, and grief in between.

Do over - a new attempt or opportunity to do something after a previous attempt has been unsuccessful or unsatisfactory. The commandments weren't unsatisfactory the first time; the people's response to waiting on what God shared with Moses was.

The Israelites got a do-over. God in his mercy extended grace and forgiveness while acknowledging their sinful decisions. He did not take it lightly. Then because it was necessary, God's words were captured again. 

No one likes frustrating and trying times. But if we didn't lose our work, if our golden calves weren't smashed, we wouldn't realize the greatness of the God we serve. Sometimes do-overs are essential.

The Lord said to Moses, "Cut two stone tablets like the first ones, and I will write on them the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke (Exodus 34:1).

Can you count the do-overs God has given you? How do you handle a do-over?


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  1. Great point-I'm sure I've been given too many to count!

  2. First, I want to hand it to you to go back to school! I have thought about it but not taken the leap. And yes, I have lost writing that I slaved over. So devastating at first. Good analogy. So glad God gives me do-overs.

  3. I too was a mature age University student when my children were little.
    And yes I loved it too & had the same experience of losing a paper but as you said above you learn that lesson very quickly in that one loss! Graduating was such a joyful moment after all the hard work!

    Great post my friend!

  4. Isn't it amazing how our lives can mirror biblical accounts.

    There's nothing new under the sun - Ecc 1:9

  5. I'm so thankful for God's gracious do-overs in my life! May we be willing to give them to others when appropriate!

  6. I can relate. This too happened to me while writing a graduate paper. My children were young at the time and I remember in the midst of my meltdown hearing one of my kids saying mom's gone off the deep end. Oh I praise God for the do overs he's allowed me to. Blessings.

  7. I am so grateful for do-overs. As I sat thinking about Moses' do-over, I realized ... how we have benefited from his do-over. Sometimes our do-overs may not only benefit ourselves, but also someone else who also needs to learn from our experience.


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