What would you think about a baseball player who played seven seasons without hitting the ball in fair territory? One of the best players of all time, Hall of Famer, Mickey Mantle, did the equivalent of that. His strikeouts and walks added up to more than 3,400 trips to the plate – seven season's worth.
R. H. Macy failed seven times before his store in New York caught on.
Novelist John Creasey got 753 rejection slips before he published 564 books, and Jonas Salk failed two hundred times in his efforts to find a vaccine for polio.
Former Chicago Bears head coach, Mike Ditka correctly observed, "Failure isn't fatal unless you let it be."
In Isaiah :4, we discover that the prophet was battling thoughts of failure. He stated, " I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and in empty futility." Yet today, his writings are still influencing a generation.
John Calvin, one of the fathers of the Reformation, experienced these same feelings. He said in his dying hour, "All that I have done has been of no value. The wicked will gladly seize on this word. But I repeat it again: all that I have done is of no value," yet his work lives on today.
The word "fail" in the Hebrew has various meanings. One is "the light to go out," speaking of weariness.
Another is "for the eye to be dimmed," speaking of allowing our vision to diminish due to the lack of results.
Third, "to have a spirit of heaviness," meaning "discouragement."
Finally, "to be restrained," allowing ourselves to lose our zeal and passion for the work God has called us to.
Matthew Henry experienced this. He thought his ministry was a failure, and yet he lives on in book shelves around the world. Our perception of things is many times mistaken.
The late Ruth Bell Graham wrote an article in Decision called "Mistakes." She stated, "Some fishermen in the highlands of Scotland came into a little Scottish inn late one afternoon for a cup of tea. As one was describing 'the one that got away' to his friends, he flung out his hands in the typical fisherman's gesture. He did so just as the waitress was setting down his cup of tea. The resulting collision left a huge tea stain spreading on the whitewashed wall. The fisherman apologized profusely.
Another man seated nearby said, 'Never mind.' Rising, he took a crayon from his pocket and began to sketch around the ugly, brown stain. Slowly there emerged the head of a magnificent royal stag with large antlers. The man was Edwin Landseer, England's foremost painter of animals.
Now, if an artist can do that with an ugly, brown stain, what can God do with my sins and mistakes, if I give them to Him?"
Remember, "Success is not permanent, but neither is failure!"
Dave Arnold, Pastor
Gulf Coast Worship Center
New Port Richey