Here We Go Again
Philemon 12-16, (NIV), “I am sending him—who is my very heart—back to you…. I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the gospel. But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do would not seem forced but would be voluntary. Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back forever— no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord.”
Have you ever been in a situation that you wanted to get out of so bad that when you finally got out of the situation, at some point you found yourself right back in it? Same situation, different time, different place. Looking back, you wonder if you made the right decision and believing you did, can’t seem to figure out, “how did I get back here?”
This is what happened to Onesimus. Onesimus was a slave of Philemon who had run away having stolen from Philemon to support his escape. Somewhere along his journey, Onesimus meets Paul who converts him to Christianity and during their time spent together, Onesimus becomes a helper and companion to Paul (who by this time is in jail). Eventually Paul writes a letter to Philemon asking him to accept Onesimus back to his house. Yet this time, not as a slave yet as a brother in Christ.
The bible doesn’t record whether Onesimus went back to Philemon or whether Philemon accepted Onesimus back into his house. However, can you imagine what Onesimus must have thought when Paul told him he was sending him back? Regardless if Onesimus was going back to Philemon a changed man, the fact that he was being sent back to a place from which he escaped may have caused him to pause and rethink if going back is such a good idea.
Sometimes in life we find ourselves in situations from which we so desperately want to escape only to find ourselves back at square one. We compare past and present experiences, key players, decisions made, and outcomes yet fail to realize that during the first instance there were opportunities for lessons learned. As such, God gives us another chance to get it right.
Lamentations 3:22-23 (NIV), “... Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
Luckily, we don’t run out of second chances with God, just time.