Have you heard about the NFL scout who was talking with the college coach as they watched his team practice? The coach said, “Let me tell you about this player I’ve got; he’s the toughest I’ve ever seen.”
“How so?” the scout asked.
“Every practice I see him knocked on his can.” said the coach. “Then he gets back up! He keeps getting flattened play after play, but he always gets back up and keeps on going!” the coach said with pride. “Do you want to talk to him?” he asked.
“No!” said the scout. “I want to talk to the guy who keeps knocking him down!”
I got a laugh out of this because it wasn’t the answer I expected. But isn’t this more of what our society celebrates – the person who always wins?
Don’t misunderstand me; I too cheer on my favorite teams when they win and I admire champions, record setters, and winners. But if we only respect those who win and measure ourselves by superstars we are setting ourselves up for failure.
We should be reminded of the many failures of men like Lincoln and Edison before they achieved prominence. We need to remember that baseball players who are only successful three times out of ten at the plate earn millions of dollars.
Whether our job is hitting 90 mile-per-hour fastballs or passing a college economics course we should remember that it is persistence that makes winners.
Furthermore, true success is not always visible. When we define true success as faithfully fulfilling God’s will we soon learn that men don’t see things the way God sees them.
True, faithfully fulfilling God’s will often produces visible and measurable results – but not always. Throughout history there have been faithful servants of Christ who served, witnessed, and gave in total obscurity and only after their deaths (if then) were they recognized.
A simple study of the life of the prophets, apostles, and even our Lord reveals that in the eyes of mortal men they appeared to be failures. Consider Jeremiah who was told no one would listen to him! Oh, yes, we have the benefit of knowing the “rest of the story” and we know how God used their faithful service and suffering.
And that is the point – your life is not over! Your story is still being written. You are a part of an epic adventure which one day will culminate in the rule and reign of King Jesus. Only then will we know “the rest of the story.”
Until then, as my high school basketball coach often said, “Keep on keeping on!” While we must not accept failure we must remember that true failure is failing to keep trying.
Finally, when it comes to our failure to follow Christ – our sin – remember grace. Christ knew before the foundation of the earth you and I would fail. That is why He came into this world and died on the cross. He paid for our sinful failures.
Even so, we don’t downplay our sin or accept our sin failures. What we must do is accept His grace, seek His strength, and get back up.
“Though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again, but the wicked are brought down by calamity.” Proverbs 24:16