Fall is the best time for planting most trees, shrubs and herbaceous perennials. Soil remains relatively warm even as ambient temperatures drop, allowing for root development as top growth slows. I’ve been judiciously purchasing specimens to fill in some gaps in my landscape, eagerly awaiting the optimal time to plant new leafy friends and to transplant a few old ones. Given the size of some of the items to be installed and the ever-deteriorating condition of my hands, I arranged for some professional assistance and happily anticipated the appointed day, which happened to be yesterday.
I awoke early, excited to finally get underway; however, as I bustled about making breakfast, a familiar “ding” alerted me to a text message. Sadly, my landscaping project could not proceed as planned due to a key helper’s illness. My disappointment was somewhat assuaged by knowing this change of plans would allow the other partner to attend her sons’ Thanksgiving programs without the added stress of traveling back and forth to oversee my project. Little did I know God had other, more important plans for me as well.
I texted my daughter, Mary to ascertain how 21-month-old Emma was doing. She’d fallen victim to some un-diagnosable, rash-causing virus the day before and was covered in red splotches when I last saw her. Mary replied that Emma’s runny nose was considerably worse and they wouldn’t be able to attend 3-year-old Lyla’s Thanksgiving feast. She then inquired if I might be able to go instead. I responded affirmatively and quickly shifted my attention from playing in the dirt to surprising my beloved granddaughter.
As I made my way to Lyla’s pre-school, circumstances surrounding another feast came to mind. Many years have come and gone since that fateful day, blurring the details, but I distinctly remember the nature of the faux pas, long filed under “Regrettable Mom Moments”. Somehow Ray and I got our signals crossed or misunderstood the parameters of the event and neither of us went to Mary’s kindergarten Thanksgiving meal. She was the only one in her class without a parent or grandparent present. Although the hurt we inflicted on our dear daughter was unintentional, I felt miserable for disappointing her. Even now the memory brings tears to my eyes.
But yesterday, when He allowed me to be there for Lyla, God graciously gave me a do-over. His gift and the realization He too remembered my long-ago remorse made sharing Lyla’s experience that much sweeter, the past regret less painful.
Several Old Testament passages refer to God as compassionate, gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. From Adam and Eve to the chosen people of Israel to those of us who call on his precious name in these end times – we’ve all been wayward and given God plenty of reasons to turn his back on us. But He will never forget or forsake his children. In fact, He sent his only Son to save us from our sins, to be our righteousness, for He knows we are dust and can never stand in his holy presence on our own merit.
God disciplines those He loves. He forgives and restores us when we repent. And by the power of his Spirit, He is transforming us more and more into the likeness of our Savior, enabling us to produce good fruit when we abide in him. Finally, when the old order of things has passed away, He’ll wipe away every tear and dwell among his people forever.
As we enter into this Advent season, may we rejoice anew at the extravagant gift we’ve been given. Our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace knows us intimately. He humbled himself, took on flesh, lived a perfect life and died on a cross, the Sacrifice to end all sacrifices. No do-overs required. 
 See for example, Exodus 34:6; Psalm 86:15; Psalm 103:8
 Isaiah 53:6
 Isaiah 49:15
 Deuteronomy 31:8
 John 3:16
 Romans 5:17
 Psalm 103:13-14
 Hebrews 12:5-11
 1 John 1:9
 2 Corinthians 3:18
 John 15:5
 Revelation 21:3-4
 Isaiah 9:6
 Philippians 2:5-11
 Hebrews 10:1-18