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Second chances a godsend

Second chances. Charlie Sheen is hoping for one and Lindsay Lohan may be fresh out of them.

Second chances are funny things. Someone once said that a second chance is like the rain -- it can grow grass or weeds.

Rulon Gardner, an Olympic Gold medal wrestler who packed 474 pounds on his 6-foot-1 frame, got a second chance when he landed a spot on "Biggest Loser." So far he's lost more than 150 pounds. He's in the green grass.

Our hometown team got a second chance this year at the NCAA Basketball Finals. The Butler Bulldogs rose to the top again. They didn't win, but at least they were on the court, not sitting in the stands.

A friend battling cancer just received a clean report. She is relishing in the joy of a second chance.

A dog named Ban got a whopper of a second chance. Ban was recently reunited with her owner after being rescued from a roof drifting off Japan's coast more than three weeks after the earthquake and tsunami. Ban's owner recognized the dog from a television news report.

We tend to give sports figures a lot of second chances. Michael Vick served his prison time and got a second chance with the Eagles. Tiger Woods got a second chance -- not with his wife, but with the golfing community. Even Mike Tyson got a second chance.

Sometimes it is hard to know if we are extremely forgiving or simply have short memories.

We're not always as lenient with our political leaders. We are as likely to show them the exit door as to give them a second chance.

Still, the fact that we give second chances as generously as we do underscores our belief in redemption. A second chance is exhilarating. You think you're out of the running, permanently sidelined, behind bars, then circumstances change and you're cleared for a second go. It's an unexpected green light, an open door.

Soldiers are sometimes graced with a second chance. On Feb. 28, Spc. Manny Lopez was in Afghanistan when his truck hit a roadside bomb. The truck ripped in two and was twisted beyond recognition. The driver was killed. Lopez and the truck commander somehow survived. Lopez suffered a lower back spinal burst fracture and all the bones in his left leg broke through his skin. Now stateside, and facing a lengthy recovery, Lopez writes to friends, "I would like to thank God that I'm alive!"

Second chances have a life and death quality that can often frame a tragedy, clarify perspective and offer hope.

Second chances can be life changing. And life giving.

One of the most dramatic second chances was given to the thief on the cross next to Christ as he was crucified. The thief repented of his sin and asked Christ to remember him. Jesus answered saying, "Today you shall be with me in Paradise." (Luke 23:43).

Just like that, the man had a second chance -- death gave way to life.

Easter is the season of redemption. Resurrection Sunday is assurance to all who will admit they are broken and fallen, that through Christ we too, may enjoy the gift of a second chance.

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