How many times have you heard the old adage, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!”? For me, way too many to count. It’s a favorite of most parents. And it’s said with the best of intentions. Wanting to dissuade their child’s impulse to give up. Wanting to encourage their child to brush themselves off and press on to achieve what they started out to achieve. Even if it’s something as simple as riding a bike without training wheels.
This trite statement embodies some very profound truths. It’s important to feel the victory. If something’s worth anything, it’s worth fighting for. There’s always a way to overcome the odds. The world is full of challenges so if we’re going to succeed, we have to learn from our mistakes and try something different.
Some of the most successful people in history haven’t been the smartest, strongest, or best looking. They’re the ones who didn’t give up.
There are plenty of examples of people who didn’t give up––and we’re all thankful for it. Edison pursuing electricity. Bell and his telephone. The Wright brothers and flight. If they had gotten burned or skinned their knee and given up, where would we be today? As Albert Einstein said, “The person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”
Of course there’s another lesser-known adage that’s just as important: “What’s the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result.”
Ah, yes. The story of much of my life. And unfortunately, this is how most of us approach life. We make the same type of bad decisions, go after the same type of wrong relationships, and falter through the same type of religious rituals, over and over again.
Not much changes. We’re still in the same type of place, with the same type of person, feeling the same type of emptiness.
And so we try it again. And again. And again.
But good news! We don’t have to stay in this cycle. There’s hope and it starts with turning to God. How? Because if we start walking in step with God, our other decisions will start changing as well.
Here’s the problem. When most of us think about God, we think of rules. And so the first thing we try to do is follow the rules. And we fail. So we try again. And we fail. And maybe we’ll keep trying for a while. Maybe we’ll add a few more rote prayers or trips to church. But ultimately we give up. We might as well. What’s the point of trying to follow rules we can’t keep?
And that’s why Jesus came.
Jesus came to show us that the rules aren’t what brings us closer to God. The rules just show us why we need God––because we can’t live a perfect life and we can’t save ourselves. What brings us closer to God is opening our heart to Him and having a true desire to know Him.
Only Jesus lived a perfect life without stumbling in sin. We can’t. And God doesn’t expect us to. But what He does expect us to do is to get up and try again. But this time, instead of doing the things we’ve done up until this point, He wants us to try something new. Coming to Jesus. And allowing Him to be the light in our darkness.
Without God, we’ll always have an emptiness that nothing else can fill. It’s a God-sized hole in our soul. He designed it that way, so that we’d keep on trying to fill it. Again and again. The key is that He tells us what to do differently this time. Him.
“Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light.” Micah 6:8
May I pray?
Lord, we’ve tried and tried and tried. So many things we’ve tried. And we keep coming up empty. Thank you that Jesus didn’t come to shine a light on all the things we’re doing wrong. He came to shine a light into our darkness and show us the way out. God, please meet us where we sit today. Help us as we open up to You and give You our heart. Amen.
Q4U: Will you try again, but in a new way, to seek God personally instead of just trying to keep a list of rules?