It was agonising to watch. Rob Green’s (England’s goalkeeper in their match against USA) face as the ball slipped from his hands and rolled into the back of the net in front of millions of viewers. And then the four steps of shame to the back of the net to pick it up. Whatever we feel about the World Cup – we felt the agony of shame & embarrassment, and the desire for redemption – “If only I had done it differently!”.

Whilst it won’t be so public, almost all of us have had moments like this – when what we have done has been shameful, embarrassing or just plain wrong.

I remember speaking to a group of 100 people some years ago. It flopped. I just didn’t communicate well. I felt awful and apologised to the people organising the meeting. It took months to get that evening out of my head. We’ve all had times like this when we wish we could go back to change the course of events and our behaviour. Of course we can’t.

It’s when we are in what John Bunyan called the “Slough of Despond” (swamp of despair) – that we need someone to pull us out, and give us redemption. Give us forgiveness and a new start. The past can’t be changed – but perhaps it can be forgiven and the future can be different.

Jesus calls it “salvation” – in other words, life from the dead; a new beginning. The bible puts it like this: “God lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” (Psalm 40:2).

Rob Green may have let one in – but Jesus saves! (Apologies, I couldn’t resist that one).

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