I have fielded quite a few questions and comments lately from people who profess to have made mistakes and wish that they could do things over again. In fact, there have been many times in my life when I wonder why I made the choices I made. I guess we all have 20/20 hindsight but if we had it all to do over again, I don’t know how much I would change. On balance, I have made a combination of good and not so good choices that have resulted in me landing at this time and place in my life.
But there is something that we should be aware of. That is that there is a difference between mistakes and failures. Too often, though, we look at them as the same thing and that just isn’t the case. Failures are things that we try to do – and do not succeed – we say that we “failed.” Other times, we say that we made a mistake. That means that we got something wrong, or perhaps tried something that, on hindsight, we shouldn’t have done. But that doesn’t really help us identify those things that we took the risk to try – but it didn’t really work out. Those things fall into the category of failure – but they are not necessarily mistakes.
How many times have we learned something from our failures? Just because we weren’t successful doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have tried. I daresay that I have learned more from the failures in my life than I ever learned from the successes I have enjoyed. But I am glad that I took the risk on these occasions. Our culture tends to think that it is a mistake to do anything that didn’t turn out successful. Nothing could be further from the truth.
As Christians, God either has asked, or will ask, each of us to do great things – with high expectations. And we know from the Scripture that if God is in it, we will be successful. However, there are times that we are called to start something and maybe we aren’t the agent of completion. Somebody else picks up the effort from us and maybe delivers the result. When you think about leading somebody to Christ and it doesn’t happen on your watch, was it a mistake to try? Certainly not! But you could say, with your head held high, that your effort failed, at least for the time being. But maybe the Holy Spirit has somebody else in mind to complete the mission of a non-believer coming to know the saving grace of a relationship with God. The point here is that we will experience many failures during our lives but, hopefully, far fewer mistakes as we mature in our faith.
The verse for tonight is from the lips of Jesus Himself. Jesus was speaking about God being the God of Abraham, Isaac and Joseph. It had been thought that God was for the dead, and Jesus quickly explained that God is for those of us who are alive! Jesus tells us, in Mark 12:27, “He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!”
You can see that Jesus was passionate about the mistake that had been made regarding the mission of God. My encouragement this evening is that you should keep trying to learn from your experiences. You will continue to fail on occasion – but as you grow in your walk with the Lord, you will make fewer mistakes. My prayer is that you will grow in the Lord all the days of your life. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…