Wow, can you believe that we are already into March and with that comes the hope of Spring? As we look forward to the warmer weather, let me first take you back a couple of months when you made a New Years Resolution. On the first of January, you were on top of the mountain, feeling good and eager to start a new year. You were full of hope for the new year, excited about the changes that you were going to make. How is it going now that we are a little over two months in? Are you staying strong and on track, have you begun to slide or have you given up altogether? The thing about being on top of the mountain is that eventually, you have to come down. What happens when you come down? What happens when life starts getting in the way of your plans, your goals? After my twins were born, I realized how out of shape I was, when just climbing the stairs to the bedrooms left me breathless. I had been an athlete most of my life so this was a real downer for me. Right then and there I decided that I was going to start running again. Now, mind you, I had not run for several years since we had started our family (the twins were numbers 3 & 4). I told my husband my plan, I put on shorts, laced up my shoes and headed out. I was eager to start, hopeful, confident, once again the athlete! I made it one block before I had to sit down and put my head between my knees. I didn’t slowly come down from the mountain, I came tumbling down like a tumbleweed in a wind storm. I walked home dejected, my confidence shattered and my hope dashed. When I walked into the house, my husband said, “that was quick,” to which I am sure I spouted something not nice in return. I had felt like a failure and I wanted to quit! This was harder than I thought it would be. But you know what? The next day, I felt a nudge to get back out and try again, but this time I would do it smarter, more slowly. My new plan was to walk a mile for two weeks then add a little running in, extending the distance and run time each week. Before long I found that I could run a whole mile without stopping. Each day brought renewed hope and renewed energy.
In life, much of what we may deem a failure, God sees as a learning curve. Those nudges to get up and try again are from Him, it is Jesus with his hand extended waiting for you to grab hold. He never asked us to view life as a sprint, but a marathon learning His lessons as we go, the lessons that get us to the next water station and ultimately to the finish line. Failure only happens when you choose not to accept the extended hand of Christ to help you up and lead you in the right way. Failure happens when you choose to stay down and wallow in self-pity. Whatever aim or goal that you have set for yourself and by yourself is probably going to hit a point of failure because you have not included the One who knows what is best for you. However, Jesus can take that failure and turn it into a learning curve if you let him. If I had continued my running intending to reach my goal fast, I most likely would have suffered an injury, but in my time of “failure,” when I accepted Jesus’ extended hand, He showed me a better and safer way to proceed. Slowly! A learning curve!
Though my running wasn’t attempting any great feat by the world’s standards, I can draw encouragement from Peter, in the Bible, when he attempted to walk on water to Jesus (Matthew 14:24-33). He started on top of the mountain! Hopeful and confident as he stepped out of the boat looking at Jesus. Yep, but guess what? He failed! Soon the waves crashed around him and he went tumbling down. What Peter found though was Jesus’ extended hand to help him up and together they walked on the water. Peter’s failure was turned into a learning curve by Jesus! Peter learned to never take his eyes off of Jesus and to always grasp that hand when it is extended. He learned that when he walked with Jesus, doing things His way, life around him didn’t seem so scary and anything was possible to achieve. That year when I ran that first mile without stopping, did I ever think that I would be running half marathons? Absolutely not! However, over time, my running has become a precious time of conversation with the One who directs my path and well sometimes our conversations last a while and before I know it, I have completed not one but several miles, doing a half marathon was just a fun way to put those miles into a new goal. What once was a failure in my life, Jesus made into a learning curve. He extended his hand, helped me up and, like Peter, taught me to keep my eyes on Him at all times. I went from running one block to running 13.1 miles because I listened to His voice, His nudges and I let Him lead the way. Now don’t get me wrong, I still stumble and fall a time or two, but it is usually when I become a little prideful and put my eyes on me instead of on Jesus. Take another look at where you are in your New Year’s Resolutions. Are you still on top of the mountain, full of confidence and hope or have you bottomed out, needing to grab that extended hand of help? Who is leading the way in your New Year?