If at first you don’t succeed…

Whether it’s Moses or Matthew, Joshua or John, Solomon or Stephen, Saul or Paul or Peter, Job or James, or Jesus, witnesses of faith in Scripture embody and live out their faithfulness as living examples to and for us of persons who show unto others the way of the Christ. The way of the journey in faith, however, is not always, if ever it seems, straightforward. Its approach or experience in navigating through life’s events and various callings are fraught with the challenges and difficulties faced by such leading witnesses along the path of a faith-filled pilgrimage.


In our reading of the scriptural narrative, we find each of these and other leading characters at one point or another facing failure in some form, if at least from a worldly, if not otherwise biblical, perspective. In view of this, a number of typically conventional sayings come to mind. Among these are the following:


“If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.” “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results.” “God helps those who help themselves.”


While on the surface these sayings might seem to make sense on their own, we may upon further examination find them inherently contradictory in contrast with each other and actually nonsensical even within themselves, especially when delving into them more deeply in the light of the Word of God which exposes their folly and fallacy. More and more as I grow in my experience in the journey of faith as a student of God’s Word, I find many such common sayings inadequate, if not actually antithetical to the gospel in the biblical account(s).


We who are seeking to be disciples of the way, the truth, the resurrection and the life in Jesus Christ are at times too quick and easy to adopt or become adopted by such insidious ideas in the world surrounding us. If we are blessed, we may discover a deeper awareness of ourselves being so readily acquiescing to the wily ways of this world in which we are called to live, but not be of it.


Rather than giving in, subscribing, surrendering and/or becoming submitted to the so-called wisely popular notions of the world around us, we would do better, beloved, in the way of the Word as the apostle Paul writes in Romans (12:1-2), urging us in view of God’s mercy, to offer ourselves as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God in a reasonable way through loving acts of service with a worshipful attitude in the Spirit of the Lord. As Paul urges us on:


“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”


Other verses from Scripture come to mind as well. “I am the vine, you are the branches… apart from me, you can do nothing.” (Jesus in John 15:5) “God is our refuge and strength. A very present help in time of trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)


If I were to begin attempting to rewrite, reform and reformulate the more worldly saying(s) listed earlier above in the light of Scripture, it might go something like this:


If at first you don’t succeed, don’t be afraid to “fail” and “fail again” as you learn along the way, always falling on your knees to pray and pray again and again, keeping on keeping on in the way of faith. Indeed, if at first you don’t succeed, read and reread and heed the Word. The definition of insanity is thinking you can succeed in being and/or becoming a faithful witness without or apart from God. God actually helps those who ask God for help!


All the more to and for the glory of God, in this Lenten season, as well as forever and always, toward being and becoming faithful witnesses, may we remain and continue in the Lord,


Pastor Rex

~ by prayersForMelissa on February 21, 2013.

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