I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game-winning shot . . . and missed. And I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why … I succeed.
—Michael Jordan (b. 1963), American basketball player
Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.
—Henry Ford (1863–1947), founder of the Ford Motor Company
When I turned 60 last year, I did some soul searching. I clearly hadn’t achieved all I could or should have in my life so far. Was I therefore a failure? Give me a minute before I answer that.
I’d gone through some changes recently and was now at a place both geographically and career-wise that was not what I had had in mind. I wasn’t unhappy, but I wasn’t entirely pleased with my circumstances either. I felt like I was becalmed at sea, no wind in my sails, monotonous stretches of ocean in all directions. The horizon was in sight, but that didn’t help. I couldn’t decide which point on the horizon to aim for, and even if I could, I had no means to propel myself towards it. What and where was my purpose in life?
Life is one big learning experience, and for those of us who know and love Jesus, He is our teacher. More than anything, He wants to teach us all we need to know about Him and His love, so things will go better and we’ll be happier.
He knows that none of us can accomplish any real good if we depend on our own supposed strength and wisdom. In fact, He said, “Without Me you can do nothing.”1 But the Bible also says that we “can do all things through Christ.”2 That’s the key right there. We need to learn to let Jesus do things through us.
If you feel that you have made mistakes, taken wrong turns, even failed miserably at this or that, you’re in good company. Many of God’s heroes in the Bible did too, but they learned from their mistakes. And God came to them, sitting in the midst of failed dreams or disappointed hopes, and gave them a new reason to live. That’s what He can do when we give up on our own plans and projects and decide to try His. He gives us goals to help us grow and move in the right direction, and then He helps us attain them. Give Him a chance. Let Him give you the good things He has for you.
The story of the apostle Peter, as retold by Abi F. May
My heart has sunk to such depths that not even the incessant flow of tears can wash away the regret and despair. How did it all go so wrong?
Until three years ago I had been fairly content with my life as a fisherman, yet I wasn’t truly satisfied. I resented paying the tax collector his due. I resented the rabbis for criticizing my drinking and coarse language. Most of all I resented the fact that although my belly would be filled most days, I was never really any better off. The next day I would need to fish again to eat again. Was the sum of my life a basket of fish?
I can’t remember ever seeing a flea circus—the classic sideshow event in which fleas are the performers—but I came across a fascinating article about how the fleas are trained.
Fleas can jump extraordinarily high, relative to their tiny size. Training fleas involves putting them into a small box or jar. Without a lid, the fleas could easily jump out, so the flea trainer puts a lid in place and waits.
Fear of failure is a lack of faith and can actually cause failure; only faith succeeds.
Isaiah 7:9b: If you will not believe, Surely you shall not be established.
Matthew 13:58: Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief.
The Devil is the accuser (Revelation 12:9–10). He accuses us for what we haven’t done or could have done or should have done but didn’t. He picks at all the lacks and shortcomings and weaknesses and little failures. If you start listening to him in your mind, you’re beaten, because there will always be something more you could have done or something you wish you hadn’t done. There will always be something—some neglect, some oversight, some mistake or fault, some bad habit—that the Devil can pick on if he wants to, and he sure wants to!