Failure

Her look, a combination of Palomino colored hair and glitzy aquamarine eyes made her stand out from others like a lighthouse. I didn’t know her well but when I was around her she seemed to have an inner spirit that was as gentle as a whisper. I was drawn to her laid-back Sunday afternoon personality. Not only was she extremely pretty and sweet, but she was also totally out of my league. She was voted Class Favorite, Most Beautiful and varsity cheerleader and to stack the odds further, she was a grade ahead of me. I wanted to take Kim on a date but I knew her going out with me would make her as out of place as a polar bear in the desert. I told a friend I was going to ask her out only to hear him say my chances were as a good as snowman in Hades. He seemed to get a thrill from chiding me for taking such an unrealistic chance.

I was sweating and my nerves were pulsing with fear the first time I called her. We talked about trivial things for 15 minutes. I didn’t want to move too fast so I decided to wait until the following week to jump off the cliff of uncertainty. She was so kind on our next two visits that I actually thought she would say yes. When the day came to take the plunge, I asked if she would go to the movies with me. With the grace of a dove she told me that I was a great guy but she could never see me as anything more than a friend. I told her I understood and before hanging up she thanked me for asking. I never talked to her on the phone again. Every time I saw her in the hallway she would say “hi” and smile. Later that year she graduated, and I have never seen her since. I presume she married a guy who has the looks of Brad Pitt and who has accomplished something spectacular like winning the Nobel Peace Prize.

I learned some important lessons from the short experience. After being turned down by Kim, I heard enough “I told you so’s” from my buddy to fill the ocean, but I felt satisfied I had made the attempt. I was convinced it was better to have taken the risk and lost than to have never tried. I also learned rejection is a normal part of life. From that day forward I was never afraid to ask out another girl. I was shot down more than I care to admit but it may be that experience that gave me the courage to ask out the most beautiful and amazing woman I have ever met who became my wife and the mother of my three kids. Missy is so beyond my worth and expectation!! Her dimple, laugh, inner and outer beauty still rapture me. I’m convinced that some successes are best learned through failure.

Life’s greatest failure is the unwillingness to fail. Many followers of Jesus have hindered accomplishments for God because of this reluctance. God asks his people to do some outrageous, out-of-bounds things. Conventional wisdom is not and never will be a part of His vocabulary! Asking a man to build an ark, a young boy to fight a nine-foot killing machine, a queen to risk her life, a stuttering man to take on an Egyptian army with nothing but a staff and 12 men to leave their homes, and families and businessmen to follow an unknown carpenter from Galilee is way beyond the margin. However, God doesn’t respect margins when it comes to building His kingdom or His people because He doesn’t know anything that is impossible. These heroes were willing to look ridiculous and be laughed at and ridiculed in order to be in on the miraculous. Would you be willing to be hated, mocked, rejected and spit on in order to complete God’s plan for your life? Jesus was! Why are we not willing to do the same?

Daniel 11:32 says the people who know their God shall be strong and do exploits. Regrettably, much of the exploiting we do is the wrong kind! While we should be attempting the impossible, we have instead become consumed with safety, alleviating potential negative outcomes, fitting in and being like the world. We have bought into a false standard. Jesus was the paradox to many of us. He was misunderstood, thought of as foolish and completely unconcerned with fitting in to the norm. His passion was doing what God asked – regardless of the crowd’s roar. In essence, He was different, and we are to trace his steps.

Although it seems small now, my attempt at asking out Kim was a risk. If a person is going to be all God intends, they must be willing to take a few for Him. While every risk does not pay off with the currency we hope for, there is always a gain. God honors this behavior because it is what faith is made of. Faith is the willingness to obey, step into the uncertain and even be considered a failure by other’s standards. The birthing place of miracles is the ward of faith. It is the solitary place where God is seen by you and through you. So go ahead and step out on a ledge of faith! Noah, David, Esther, Moses and the 12 disciples would all confirm that taking no risk is always the greatest risk of all!

-- Jay

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