“Don’t interfere with good people’s lives;
don’t try to get the best of them.
No matter how many times you trip them up,
God-loyal people don’t stay down long;
Soon they’re up on their feet,
while the wicked end up flat on their faces.” Proverbs 24:15-16 MSG
Ever notice how, when you fall down, the first thing you do is look around to see if anyone saw you…even if no one’s around? That’s how we are. Oh, how we hate to fall, to lose, to mess up. It just erodes at our self-confidence so. Losing is so tabu to us, that many of us go through our whole lives playing it safe. We are the spiritual hermits. We are the servant who hides the ten talents so that, even if he gains nothing, he won’t lose anything.
This is NOT the way God created us, though! He hardwired us for relationship with Him; to trust Him in all our endeavors. He already knew as he pressed that clay together and puffed the first breath of life into Adam that He was creating a fallible creature, yet He loved him! He looked forward to hanging out in the garden with Adam and Eve in those days before disobedience drove a wedge between them and Him. Back in those days, they trusted Him implicitly, and whatever He said, they were ok with. They named all the animals, walked among all the creepy crawlers and critters with not an inkling of fear. Why, they’d never even experienced the emotion of dread until they opened themselves up to sin. Once they knew they’d messed up, they did their level best to hide from God and “pretend” that He wouldn’t notice the missed appointment in the cool of the day. Maybe He would think those sewn-together leaves were just an expression of Eve’s creativity?
So, maybe you have done your share of fruit-sampling lately, or listening to the serpent’s reasoning, and find yourself alienated from God. Or you’ve had a life event to throw you so out of kilter that you wonder if you ever heard from Him in the first place. Let me draw you in a little closer so that I can help you back to your feet!
As I said earlier, God knew when He created us that the free-will factor would make us free to love Him by choice…but that it also gave us the option of wrong choices as well. So you’ve messed up. May I also point to Adam and Eve with a suggestion that you examine their behavior in the “what NOT to do when you fall flat on your face” category? In Genesis, I don’t see a repentant spirit in either of them. What I see is a blame game. No accountability whatsoever, and not a hint of remorse. Did they think that presenting a good enough argument to justify their actions would impress their Creator? Who knows…but Eve blamed the serpent, Adam blamed Eve (and he even blamed God for “that woman you gave me”). I wonder how differently things might have gone if they’d thrown themselves at His mercy and simply repented? Consequences would still come from their decisions, but I can’t help but think of what might have gone better had they just faced their failures and sought His forgiveness. Maybe a question He’ll answer for us in eternity…
When I was a teenager, my nephew and cousins were the same age, and like all boys entering the big gaming age, they had fallen in love with “intendo” (what they called Nintendo). I loved the little kids in our family, and I thought I might try playing, too, so that we could enjoy some together time. After all, little kids make that stuff look so easy! So, I set out by myself to master this Mario thing. Now, I’m very much a progress person; and it took me very little time to decide that I hated this game. Anything which took away all my progress and made me start all over again with nothing at the very beginning…not my cup of tea at all. So, my video game days ended abruptly.
If you have a relationship with God, built on the rock, life doesn’t have to be like Eden’s fall and Mario’s failure. If you maintain a meek heart, quick to forgive and quick to repent when you’re wrong, mistakes and losses don’t pile up on your shelf of shame. God doesn’t take away every accomplishment you’ve achieved when you mess up. You don’t have to learn from scratch all over again every truth He’s imparted into you in those times of prayer, reading, seeking. He will dust you off and help you to miss as little time as possible. He WANTS you to succeed. He WANTS you to be the servant who invests those talents, even if the market bottoms out and you lose everything! In fact, He’d rather you were willing to risk failure than to never put His gifts in your life to the test.
That said, STOP being so people-conscious! So what if they judge you? In the big picture, so WHAT? I can tell you right now, at some point in time, you’re going to think you heard God’s voice on a matter, only to discover later that maybe you were really following your own heart. Does that mean you have no ability to hear from Him? Of course not! Learn from your miscalculation, get back up, and keep going. Look at the scoreboard…God didn’t deduct your loss! You’re going to make an embarrassing gaffe at some juncture, or even be falsely accused when you had pure intentions. You will probably even have at least one of those major life blunders which “seemed like a good idea at the time.” Yes, you, saved person. You, Holy Ghost-filled believer, are still capable of some real loo-loos if you lean toward your own understanding. The good Lord could show you plenty of mine over the years; but with every loss, He always responded to my cry for help. He never once said, “I think I’ll just let you wallow in it for a little while to see how you like it.” His Word remains ever-true: if we confess, He is faithful to forgive and cleanse. If you make a foolish mistake, or even if you give in to temptation and commit a sin, stop where you are and throw yourself on His mercy! You may have a few lasting regrets for your foolishness, but God will forgive you and make you stronger in that area of your life IF YOU’LL LET HIM. If you believe for something and it doesn’t happen, or if you get ahead of God’s timing and alter the outcome of an important life occurrence, go to Him. Talk to Him about it. Ask forgiveness if you were disobedient. Ask for wisdom, which HE HAS ALREADY PROMISED TO GIVE TO THOSE WHO ASK!
If you knew that your losses wouldn’t count against you in some earthly game, you would go up against the very best opponents with full confidence–just as though you were the reigning champion! It wouldn’t make winning mean any less…but it WOULD cause you to stop holding back and worrying what other people are thinking about you! Word: You can go up against the adversary and come out a winner. Even if you lose a few matches, you will STILL win if you won’t quit. So please, step out in faith and begin taking some “risks!” Risk not getting it right, so that eventually, you’ll be able to be spot-on! Be willing to take a chance for Christ’s sake, so that if not now, some day you will have grown enough in your faith to achieve the impossible! Pray for someone. “What if he/she doesn’t get well,” you might ask? Pray again anyway. Pray for bunches more people, even. Muster up enough courage to sing your first special, even if the microphone is shaking in your hand! Apply for that job which seems to require more credentials than you have…your character alone may be the selling point that lands you the career of your dreams. Pay that tithe, even if it means your checkbook appears to be down 10%…and watch God bless the 90%! Be the one to apologize first, even if you’re sure the disagreement was completely the other person’s fault! Remember, it takes no faith to just what God’s given you in a jar and bury it in the ground. But…what if you put Him to the test? What if you fail a few times and He picks you up without fail and says, “Keep trying…you’ll get it!”
He is on your side. He has made everything available to you to help you complete this race of life. And so long as you keep trying, over and over again, your losses will not rob you of your victory!