I leave a trail of mistakes behind me like leaves caught in the autumn wind. Maybe you can share that experience.
I lose things. I act like a fool. I follow my own heart way too often. I let my emotions seep out too far and they get the best of me. I speak when I should listen and forget to listen when I’m trying to listen. If there’s ever a gracious word to say, I usually think it after the conversations over (after I’ve already dug myself 6 feet in the ground). I forget things all the time.
Wisdom always seems to be the opposite of what I actually do. (Sure there’s moments, but those are few and far in between)
Most of the time the only “wisdom” I experience is when I look at other people’s lives and say… you know that’s really not a wise thing to do. Sometimes I think that way about Bible stories, forgetting I have the advantage of how the story ends. Such as with Joseph. I’ve thought to myself “You know Joseph, if you wouldn’t have shared those dreams you probably wouldn’t have ended up in the pit.” Or maybe Samson, if he hadn’t entrusted himself to that woman, he probably wouldn’t have lost his strength. Or Dinah: maybe if she hadn’t wandered off into the city alone, she wouldn’t have been raped. Adam and Eve… if you just wouldn’t have eaten from that tree. (Not that this criticism is right, but this is my tendency).
For those of us living in the mistake, it can be really discouraging to hear someone say, “Well you know… if you would have done this… if you would have known” because it’s too late. I’d do a lot of things differently if I had wisdom staring at me right in the face at every decision I make with a helpful arrow or maybe real life subtitles projecting in front of me. Problem is, wisdom must searched for like silver and hidden treasure (Proverbs 2:4).
But, what about that big trail of mistakes following me around like leaves in the autumn wind? What do I do with the ones where I missed all the words of wisdom flashing in bright and blinding neon lights?
Well, I was reading in Acts a bit recently and found this really encouraging, its the common told story of the storm when the apostle Paul was on his way to stand on trial in Rome for declaring Christ had come, and died, then rose back to life as the long awaited Messiah foretold. This is what it says:
Acts 27:18-25 We took such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard. On the third day, they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands. When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved.
After they had gone a long time without food, Paul stood up before them and said: “Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss. But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.
God’s plan was to have Paul stand before Caesar. We know this because an angel told Paul. While, yes, the crew all missed the big arrow and subtitles in the sky saying that a big storm was coming (Paul mentions this before they leave) and ended up in the storm anyway, God was still faithful to accomplish his will. Paul was going to end up where he needed to be, at Rome, no matter what. And that’s what Paul says to the men to encourage them: that God will do what He has told He will do.
I think there’s great encouragement to be taken from this. At least that I take from this. Regardless of my mistakes, God will be working greatly. Regardless of the times I say the wrong thing or go the wrong direction, pull the wrong lever, make the wrong choice… God’s plan will be accomplished. We see that in His nature from the very beginning after Adam and Eve sinned and how Eve will bear a child [Jesus] that will crush Satan’s head (Genesis 3:15), God’s will was being accomplished even through their mistake. And so it goes for the rest of creation and even up to me and the rest of us until eternity.
Romans 8:28 For we know, God works all things for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his great purpose.
Maybe my trail of leaves is just proof that God’s power is made perfect in weakness as I walk humbly with my Lord, in the house of God forever.