As I grow older, my life becomes even more prone to look back, searching through experiential data, examining my steps. Actually this is not all bad, for my objective is mining this growing experience base for any sage advice, which might lend some margin of error avoidance for the next generation. Why should I let them make the same mistakes by covering my own?
When one has been as active as I have been in the community, experimenting in so many arenas, even attempting several risky entrepreneurial ventures, the potential for failure is enhanced.
Maybe this morning’s blog entry was stirred by a comment on Facebook: “the pain of failure is not nearly as bad as the pain of missed opportunity”; or perhaps, the challenge of reading through Ezekiel’s chronicle of Israel’s’ failures in my morning devotional regimen? Humor me!
A small booklet read earlier in my life advised that one give focus to regret reduction; for even in a normal life there will be enough regret. This author, whose name I have long forgotten, advocated for seizing every opportunity in life, without regard for failure, for failure is surely a part of every success package. Harvard research: “All else equal, a venture-capital-backed entrepreneur who succeeds in a venture (by our definition, starts a company that goes public) has a 30 percent chance of succeeding in his next venture. By contrast, first-time entrepreneurs have only an 18 percent chance of succeeding and entrepreneurs who previously failed have a 20 percent chance of succeeding.”*
Bear in mind that I am not advocating uneducated risks, simply for the sake of building a backlog of failures, for that would surely lead to regret! However, the more one fails, the more one learns. This even applies to spiritual behavior, what I call following one’s heart.
I think I can say that most of my ventures, at least since 1973, have been about following my heart in an attempt to serve others in love. I mean that sincerely, for even the financial ventures have been capacity building attempts to enable a higher level of giving, more so than wealth accumulation. Speaking of failures!
Following my heart is better expressed as being in Christ, and rounds “the bend toward home” as I conclude this entry. Not only am I hoping to reach a younger generation but to also encourage my own. Age does something to the body’s resilience, its ability to bounce back, making failure even more difficult. Another has said, “Age wrinkles the skin, but loss of enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.”
However, in Christ, we can be renewed every morning, abounding in grace and promised a natural life that is supernatural.
Thus when my mind seems reluctant to turn loose of my most recent failures, with a tendency to turn inward toward my own darkness and personal pool of regrets, I simply step upward into Christ.
My mind recalls just such a night of guilt when I was about 35 years of age. I had been in route to a graduate class when suddenly the vehicle in front of me swerved off the road. The driver had slumped over the steering wheel in what would later be determined to be an aneurism. When I pulled off the road to help, I realized that this young man and his family had actually attended the school where I taught. I knew him and even now recall holding his head against my chest, calling his name as I raised him from the steering wheel, his eyes fixed and breathing halted.
I so much believe in the power of God and at that time prayed over him, given the obvious terror in the eyes of this young widow to be, as she crouched on the floor of their recreational vehicle, holding two young children whom only minutes before were excited about a vacation with their dad.
Later, as paramedics arrived, he would be revived, then attempting to set up, he turned his head as if searching for my eyes, locking in to my gaze just before succumbing to the blood that was gathering on his brain. That my friend was hard to bear.
Here I was, holding the power to raise one from the dead…you have to understand my belief…and I had failed to deliver.
I will never forget later that night as I struggled in prayer, the words of that young mother ringing in my ears and the image of her cuddling her terrified children, looking up at me as I held her dying husband in my arms and pleading that I please pray.
I recall crying before God that night, repenting that I had insufficient faith to deliver this man back to the arms of his family. In fact, I cried myself to sleep that night, only to be awakened by a vision, wherein names were being called, the long line of individuals of which I was one, advancing forward with each name. My guilt grew as well, until I heard my name called. Then something occurred that actually affords me the basis for this entry. The moment my name was called out, I recall suddenly as if an out of body experience, seeing myself; what I saw would forever impact my awareness of the work of Christ.
When my name was called, the image of myself fell from me like a garment unzipped and the One who stood before the source of my fear was Christ Himself. He took on my guilt, He bore my indignities and the truth of Isaiah 53:5 became forever mine.
I am in Christ, who is seated with the Father, the Creator, the all-knowing One, to whom I can now turn with assurance of an advocate. He lifts me up above my failures, so that future successes go unlimited, though my failure package continues to grow as well.
In moments of failure when I would so easily return to my tendency toward regret, now more seductive than when I was young, I step out of myself and into Christ, for He alone can bear my burden and breathe into me the life that truly is mine!
By the way, I believe the young man that day was actually searching for my face and then locking into my eyes as a departing “ thank you” for sharing an intimate moment with his family. I believe I will see him again one day!
Let God breath (enthusia) on you this morning.