Mistakes

“They’ve finally come up with the perfect office computer. If it makes a mistake, it blames another computer.”
Milton Berle

“I must tell you I take terrible risks. Because my playing is very clear when I make a mistake you hear it. If you want me to play only the notes without any specific dynamics, I will never make one mistake. Never be afraid to dare.”
Vladimir Horowitz

Not to compare ourselves with God but an average parent can imagine how God might feel about the human race. You could nickname most of us Will because we have a tendency to exert our wills throughout our lives for better and for worse. I will study this subject until I have it down. I will grab that hot skillet at an age when I’ve yet to know for myself what hot really means. I will use prayer, love, and reason to grow healthy relationships or I will engage in selfish and unhealthy behavior to the detriment of myself and those around me. To be sure, all of us Wills will make mistakes, some intended and some unintended. How do we deal with the mistakes we and the others around us make? What reaction should we then expect from God, and how should that model prepare us to meet the challenges mistakes pose in our lives?

When I consider how God feels about our mistakes, I think he’s the perfect example of an ideal parent. First, he gives us plenty of room to grow and learn from our mistakes. A good parent is able to set boundaries while creating an environment the child can thrive in. Learning our way into being our best selves always involves some trial and error. For some of us, a lot of trial and error. Sometimes we even have to go to trial for our errors! God’s grace, forgiveness, and attitude of forbearance do not remove natural consequences. That hot stove will still burn. Traffic school might be the best you can hope for if you decide to set your own special speed limit. Your spouse may have married you for better or for worse but not, for example, felony murder. What you will find with God though, is he never runs out of grace. His love and forgiveness are always enough and more. If you trust in Christ, you’re part of the family. Period.

 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
2 Peter 3:9
NIV

 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Romans 10:9
NIV

God, there you are
before and after my mistakes.
I learn. I grow.
Always you forgive.
When I’m afraid to move on
and lack faith in myself,
I lean deeply into you
because you live.

©Joel Tipple 6/28/2020








Story

Photo by Victor on Pexels.com

“Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.”
C.S. Lewis

The story of Jesus Christ, his birth, life, death, and resurrection has often been referred to as the greatest story ever told. As beneficiaries of the gift of life Jesus made available to us through his sacrifice, we have become a part of this wonderful story.

We’re all born to live our own particular story. Think of your story as being like one of those Russian nesting babushka dolls. The biggest doll could represent God and his creation of the whole thing. We’re all somewhere down the line, the smaller dolls, if you like. If you’re a guy and you’re bothered by the idea of being a doll, be a… G.I. Joe. Whatever floats your boat. You get the idea. It doesn’t take any special effort to narrate your story. We all do that automatically from the moment we have an awareness of our own existence. As we grow older, the story going on in our head grows in size and complexity but our tendency even as adults is to make it mostly about ourselves. We call people who have little concern for the stories of others narcissists. I was watching a documentary the other day which mentioned an act of bravery by a soldier involved in our troops’ landing on Tarawa during World War 2. The soldier saw a grenade land in the middle of his group and immediately jumped on it to save his fellow soldiers from being killed by the blast. Miraculously, he survived and recovered from his wounds. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, but never told his family. When asked about his act of bravery, he said there was no time to think about what he did, he just did it. When he came home, he put the medal into a drawer and never talked about it until he was interviewed for the broadcast. This man carried with him an innate sense of the greater story.

One of the most difficult things to truly do is put yourself in another person’s shoes, especially if their feet are smaller than yours. Seriously though, even if we recognize the value of empathy, and our experience is significantly similar to another’s, we can still only go part way toward knowing how they feel. There are just so many variables in the human experience.

Right now, we seem to be in the middle of a most calamitous time in our history. Not long ago it would have been hard to imagine anything pushing covid 19 off the front page. Then in quick succession the killings of two black Americans highlighted some of the great inequities in our society’s handling of racial differences. It’s clear we have a long way to go to make our democracy truly available to all its citizens; much farther than many of us realized. While we may not truly be able to place ourselves in the shoes of another, we must try, and with the knowledge gained from trying, we must act.

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
Matthew 25:40 ESV


Setting aside that I don’t know you,
do I care?
If my world works for me,
do I see you standing there?
Am I my brother’s keeper
or even a reliable witness?
Where’s my responsibility
in inequity’s redress?
How much energy have I wasted
toward what didn’t count for your kingdom?
When you return,
let me not be found wanting,
considering what I was given.


© Joel Tipple 6/7/2020