The Backspace

The button you learn the location of the fastest when you are touch typing is the backspace. It is perhaps the most important key on the keyboard, especially in those beginning practices.

In life, the ability to say, “I was wrong” is even more important. And it is not limited in its necessity to the early years of youth. One would think that we would learn from our mistakes and make fewer of them as we grow older, but in truth only half of that statement is correct. We do learn from our mistakes (faster or slower depending on our humility), but we don’t necessarily make fewer as we go on. The amount of knowledge and wisdom out there in this universe is so vast, that if we never repeated a single mistake and learned every single miniscule bit of prudence immediately upon its presentation, at the end of a thousand years of life we would be no closer to reaching even a significant fraction of the totality of knowledge and maturity. And so we have room to continuously grow. Compared to the fulness of the stature of God, every giant leap of our progression is merely another baby step. To be more accurate, it would be more like an infant’s first efforts to open his eyes and track his mother’s finger. We are blind infants, struggling to see and appreciate the handiwork of our infinite Creator.

How amusing it is to feel that jerk in my heart when I discover that I made a mistake or mistated a fact or misjudged a decision – that tug of remonstrance telling me I shouldn’t have done that, I could have done better, and that I need to somehow cover it up. That ever-present pride of us little manlings, which so easily grows into defensiveness and arrogance, stifling learning. How much better it is to simply confess and say, “I was wrong.” Why should it surprise you?

I sin. I fall. I stumble. I fail. I am not defined by these things, though, praise God. For in His mercy He granted me this respite, this grace, this hope: I can get back up and try again. And as long as I keep trying, as long as I confess my errors and stand up to step forward yet again, I have hope. I have purpose.

The Bible says that just men fall seven times, and rise up again. Repeatedly, over and over, we fail, no matter how righteous we are. What makes us different from the unrighteous sinners is that we hit the backspace and try again. We don’t stop fighting. Even if you get knocked out in the fight and for days you are down, at the mercy of the flesh’s whim and perversion, you can get back up again and say, “no more!” You can confess to God your sin, acknowledge your need of Him and your desire for Him, and take another swing at it.

God’s mercy and faithfulness is likened to the clouds in the Bible. Recently I was looking up at the sky and meditating on this beautiful fact, and marveling at all the ways this is a perfect simile. Look at a cloud and try and grasp the utter vastness of their distance and size – mountains and towers piled on each other, unimaginably weighty, and yet they sit there perfectly placid thousands of feet above the earth. How? It defies reason and perception when you think about it. There is no visible support or engine that maintains their height, and yet they remain. God’s mercy is like that. Inexplicable yet full of wonder and vastness, and of a height we cannot comprehend.

Trust in that mercy. Get up. Try again. Use the backspace.

In love, your brother and fellowservant to Christ,
Jay

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One Response

  1. I think this is a lesson that I have struggled to learn. I am one of those people who hate to fail and have learned the hard way that if you spend to much time worrying about failure you will do nothing with your life which is in actuality a failure. Also fear of failure is at its root doubting God and being unwilling to use the backspace is pride and we know what God thinks about that. Great post!

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