“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
I find this statement in line with the instructions and attitude for serious Christians to latch onto and continue in the battle under the banner of Jesus Christ.
Why do I say this? Because of the clear teaching of scripture, observation and, yes, that word that brings too many memories of shame, experience. John the Apostle knew the pain of the deep inner desire to please and the agony of missing the game winning shot by some failure of the flesh. John shares this with us in 1 John 2:1, “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:”
I like the word, advocate, especially since our advocate is Jesus Christ. I know, again from experience the vast difference between a true advocate and a hack. An advocate means someone who pleads your case, but with Christ as advocate we have The Son God pleading His own blood as the basis for our forgiveness before The Judge in the High Court of Heaven.
The opening quote is from Basketball’s stellar star, Michael Jordan. Yes sir re, the high numbers relating to failure are his. Yet he attributes the stats as major contributors to his amazing success in his chosen field. In sports as in reality life, the last miss does not matter, for no matter how dearly you would love to pull it back no power in Earth or in Heaven can ever bring that opportunity back. The Holy Spirit, in breathing scripture, notes this over and again. Years ago I heard Norman Vincent Peale say, “Turning the phrase ‘if only’ into ‘next time’ can make all the difference in life.” He was right on point.
A wee bit of bragging here: I played open class softball into my sixties with a claim to fame of hitting a triple off the famous fast pitch magician, Eddie Feigner, of The King and His Court. I remember every aspect of that night, the pitch, exactly how it felt when the ball was hit. Later that year at an awards banquet a player stated in a little speech, “If our team was playing for the championship with two outs and the winning run on second base and $1000 was on the line for members of the winning team, I would want Larry Lilly at the plate.” There were times when over the long years I delivered the walk off hit. Yet one game lives on in my mind. The Championship was on the line, the bottom of the last inning, two outs, the tying run on third, the winning run on second. The scene was tailor made for me. I made a serious mistake in failing to practice a long standing habit of taking the first pitch to settle down. The first pitch was exactly THE one. I hit the ball with all my power and it went what seemed like 350 feet, straight up in the air to the pitcher! Having felt like a pigeon so many times, I then knew firsthand the humiliation of statues. The truth that Michael Jordan knew took hold on me when Coach Reeves said, “Larry, don’t worry about it, you will get it together tomorrow night in the playoff game.” The next night batting leadoff, I hit an in the park homer. (It was on the second pitch).
In life as a Christian I have been learning (Tremendous Jones) that my coach, Jesus, is more concerned about teaching me than rejecting me because I have on occasions failed to follow established procedure. The bitterness of some failures, even in recollection, is more than I can bear to recall, but more than the bitterness at failure, I am encouraged by the thrill of victory, and the tender still small voice of Jesus telling me what was wrong with my swing, and His assurance, “Larry, you will get it right, I am with you.” Brings a tear to my eye just writing about it.
One of my favorite passages in the Bible is John 21. Notice the divinely tender way Jesus Christ dealt with The Big Fisherman, Peter. Peter had “struck out” in three appearances at the plate to make an important hit for Jesus on the night prior to the crucifixion of Christ. In John 21, after dealing with Peter in three aspects of the power of agape love, Jesus dealt with Peter’s youthful propensity to be too impetuous, but then gave him this assurance in John 21:19, “This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.”
I hope you never pop up or miss your life game winning shot, but when you do, talk it over with Jesus and have the courage to swing the bat or shoot the ball with confidence next time. The Coach is rooting for you.
This obviously applies to failure to speak a word for Christ or whatever, thus striking out. Forget “if only” and trust Jesus for “next time.”
Proverbs 24:16, “For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.”
Copyright © 2014 Larry Lilly