I was in Eighth Grade a co-captain of the Middle School Basketball team at Escambia Christian School. Not to brag, but I was not a bad player. I was better on the defensive end of the court, but I could hold my own on offense. Specifically, I was an 88% free-throw shooter – approximately 9 out of 10 times I went to the line, I would make the basket. I had received an award at Basketball Camp at Pensacola Junior College for free throws. In this game we were down by two points as time was running out. I took a pass in a fast break and went up for a simple lay-up, I missed when the defender fouled me. Here was my chance to tie the game to send us to overtime, all I had to do was to make two free-throws. I lined up the shot, imagining the ball going in as I took the three bounces that were part of my free-throw routine. I focused on the weld at the back of the rim, releasing the ball at an angle between 45 and 60 degrees, the ball rolled off my fingers with backspin and – swish! Nothing but net. I get the ball from the referee for the second shot. The game is about to be tied. I lined up the shot, imagining the ball going in as I took the three bounces that were part of my free-throw routine. I focused on the weld at the back of the rim, releasing the ball at an angle between 45 and 60 degrees, the ball rolled off my fingers with backspin and hit the back of the rim, bounced off the front of the rime to the back board and back down to the back of the rim and then . . . bounced out. I missed. I failed, I let the team, the fans, my coach, and myself down. I messed up.
I know in the grand scheme of things, that free-throw from 35 years ago does not matter much. I know that as important as basketball is, that sports are not a matter of grand importance in life and especially in eternity. But we learn lessons from all areas of life including sports. Lessons that even apply spiritually.
Since that day, I have failed in other areas. You fail too. We fail to meet own expectations. We fail to say the right thing. We fail to do the right thing, to act. We fail by not saying anything. We fail in our faith.
What do we do when we fail?
- Acknowledge our failure. 1 John 1:10, “If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” Don’t make excuses, admit it – you failed.
- Observe the reason you failed. Products that we purchase go through a process before they hit the shelves. Medicines and technology are not exempt from this basic process: Design, build, test, fail, evaluate data, redesign, build, test, fail, evaluate data, repeat until it passes. Why did I fail God? What can I learn from my failure that will help me be successful the next time?
- Put the failure behind you. Paul said it this way, ” . . . But one thing I do: forgetting what lie behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3:13-14).
- Remember Failure is not Fatal. My past does not dictate my future. Lean on others to help you over come. Lean on God who cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).
Remember even King David failed God when he sinned with Bathsheeba and had Uriah killed. When he realized his sin, his heart was broken and he repented before God. Look at his deep remorse in Psalm 51. Poignantly telling is this phrase, The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart . . .” Psa 51:17
What do we do when we fail God?
- Admit it.
- Get back up.
- Move forward in Christ.
It is Monday, let’s have a godly week!
BONUS: My friend, Joe Butler also wrote about failure today – Read Failing Forward.