I came across a wonderful book a few weeks ago, when I supposed to be clearing the bookcase; at first I thought it was a children’s book. It’s called ‘The Book of Mistakes’ by Corinna Luyken and it takes small mistakes in pictures like accidental ink splodges and makes them into leaves floating across the page. Misshapen spots and mistakes are incorporated into her artwork in unexpected ways and it shows that even big mistakes can be the source of the brightest ideas.
The film actress Sophia Loren observed that ‘mistakes are part of the dues one pays for a full life.’ None of us are exempt from making mistakes. A Chinese proverb takes it further by saying: “The glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time you fall”.
G K Chesterton who wrote the Father Brown detective stories couldn’t read until he was 8 and one of his teachers told him ‘ If we could open up your head we should not find any brain but only a lump of white fat.’! He didn’t give up and became a writer, poet, philosopher and art critic. I wonder if his old teacher ever read any of his books!
How does Jesus deal with failure? Peter completely failed Jesus when he denied knowing him. Yet Jesus lovingly allowed Peter the opportunity to be forgiven and restored. Peter could have just given up and left altogether, crushed by his failure as Judas was. But Peter took the offer to be restored again and learn from his mistake.
There are so many Bible characters who failed in some way. They all learnt that through their failures, God was their strength. He enabled them to do great things for Him. To name but a few, there were Abraham, Moses, Saul, David, Solomon, Jonah, Matthew, Peter, James and John, Saul who became Paul, Mark and Martha.
The Bible is full of stories of God’s people who made mistakes in life and it’s written there to help us avoid the same ones!
Jesus knows there are times we will fail. Psalm 145: 14 ‘The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.’ The parable of the lost sheep where the one who is lost is searched for and brought back in the loving arms of the good shepherd demonstrates the love Jesus has for those who need rescuing from their mistakes.
The Bible also clearly acknowledges the pain of failure as is so deeply expressed within so many of the Psalms; they give a voice to the crushing pain and feelings of hopelessness. God understands our pain and provides the seed of hope for redemption and transformation. Peter’s learning from his mistake enabled him to become the cornerstone of the church.
God doesn’t judge us as the world does in terms of success or failure. He does, however, look at our faithfulness and our willingness to allow Him to pick us up and move on.
At the end of the day, we are all work in progress!
With every blessing