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Monday, March 1, 2010

Afraid to Try

I have had lots of failures. These all came because I tried to do something and was not successful. Many of these things weren't for me. Others became successes because I continued to work at them. I would have had no successes without the failures. 

It is ridiculous to think I will succeed with every endeavor. It is just as ridiculous to think that God expects me to always succeed. He would not have sent His Son so that I could be saved if I could have become perfect. Therefore, I continue to try and sometimes I succeed.

Failure is not something I should be scared of. I have seen plenty of it. Often it has moved me closer to my goals. Often it has stopped me from doing something worse. I should embrace failure if I am ever going to succeed.

Several years ago I wanted to significantly improve my skiing. I set a goal to ski beyond my current abilities so that I would fall thirty times during the day. I didn't try to fall but my abilities would not allow me to ski at the level I was trying to achieve. I fell a lot. Some of the falls were spectacular. I would come back from the slopes very tired. Many might have said I lost the battle with the mountains.  I believe I learned to ski at a much more accelerated rate because I tried and failed.

I entered the Doctor of Ministry program at Golden Gate Seminary knowing that I was not nearly as smart as the others in the program. I must admit there was some trepidation in failing. I stuck with it and graduated almost twenty years ago. This came, not because I was so smart, but because I tried.

Now, I come to a stage in my life that I would like to play it safe. I would like to sit back and let others take risks. I would like to go from trying to win to trying not to lose. Yet, have you ever watched a team go from trying to win to the "prevent defense." The only thing it ever prevents them from doing is winning! I cannot expect that I will have any more success.

God had a promised land for His people but they looked at the circumstances. They saw the "giants in the land." They were so afraid of failure that they failed to realize their calling. They were so afraid that decided it was better to forget God's calling than to risk failure. Of course, we know how that turned out. God didn't let those fearful, faithless people into the Promised Land. They wandered in the wilderness until they all died off.

Is that not true for all of us? Playing it safe should be the most fearful thing we will ever do. Playing it safe leaves us in the wilderness. Playing it safe separates us from God. Playing it safe prevents us from winning.

Do you want to know what my real problem is? I know all this and still want to play it safe. I want to play "prevent defense." It doesn't have to be this way. I could be like Caleb who in his old age demanded that he have a mountain where the "giants" had been seen. He didn't seek that which was guaranteed but that which was risky. 

So, I can get in line with those who are waiting for things to happen without taking any risks at all or I can go to the head of the line and say, "Give me this mountain!"

You know, there is only one right answer.

Numbers 13:30-33 (NIV)
30 Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, "We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it."
31  But the men who had gone up with him said, "We can't attack those people; they are stronger than we are."32  And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, "The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size.33  We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them."

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