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Stepping stone or stumbling block?

Scripture teaches wisdom is something we acquire over time - it says "become wise" - it doesn't say "zap, now you are wise"!  Most of the wisdom we have acquired is done so in what some refer to as the "school of hard knocks".  You know exactly where you learned some of the lessons you have learned, while there are times when you really could not say it was one place or time when the learning happened - it came in the "course of time".  The point is, we don't stop "becoming wise" at any one point in life.  The process of acquiring wisdom is to be a continual thing.  Therefore, every opportunity presented is an opportunity to incorporate some knew knowledge or application of truth. We just need to use what we "amass" and let it affect how we make decisions in the future.  This seems to be the point of our struggle - in using what we already know to help us avoid mistakes and to amass more wisdom in the process!

Become wise, dear child, and make me happy; then nothing the world throws my way will upset me.  (Proverbs 27:11 MSG)

This may not come as a surprise to you, but your success in any given matter is NEVER final.  Yet, on the other hand, we often accept our failures as final. Why is that?  We hold out our success until the next opportunity comes along, then when we master that challenge, we call it a success.  Let us fail, sometimes even one time, and all we see is the failure!  Another thing I have recognized is our capacity to start out well, but then end miserably.  If you have ever dieted, you probably recognize this truth!  It took me a long time to realize failure was just another opportunity for God's grace to help me get back up again.  It was his grace which actually made me strong enough to even try again. Maybe this is where you find yourself today - thinking failure is final - but if you look closely in the midst of what you have come to accept as your failure, you will see this little thing called "grace".  

I once had a pastor who told us each failure could be one of two things - either a stumbling block which keeps tripping us up, or a stepping stone to the next chance at success.  I believe he was trying to tell us the choice is in how we view the failure.  You see, we can either view it as a permanent, final thing, or we can see it as a temporary "set-back" on the road to obedience! In success there are lessons - in failures the lessons exist, as well.  When we invest wisely and see our monies grow, we view our savings plan as "wise" or a "success".  When we invest poorly, not doing our diligence to ensure the growth of our monies, we label our endeavors as a "failure".  These two labels have the potential of "sticking" - but one thing we control is what we will do with every failure - either use it as a stumbling block, or choosing to step over it in the process of moving on.

Most of the time, if we view our failures as final, we anchor ourselves to the failure in some way.  In other words, we allow the "stone" to become a dead weight in our lives.  It becomes a heavy burden we carry - like a pack-full of regret.  The memory of "what could have been" is a powerful tool in our enemy's arsenal my friends!  The thoughts of "what is only possible through grace" is a more powerful tool in God's arsenal!  Which one you gonna believe?  The failure is final or the failure is a stepping stone to success?  It is a matter of choosing the right use for the stone!  Some of us have a tendency to not only trip over our failures, but then we pick them up, carrying them around like a dead weight around our necks.  All they do is weigh us down and throw us off balance!  Failure is not a permanent thing!  It is not a weight we are meant to carry.  It is an opportunity for us to embrace grace, attain wisdom, and learn to walk again.

Yep, we grieve for our losses.  Yep, we celebrate our gains.  Gains or Losses don't have to be our focus, though.  When God is our focus, each gain or loss has the equal potential to produce wisdom - applied knowledge, understanding.  Wisdom is the ability to accept grace, apply the knowledge learned, and then "go again".  Many of us don't believe God gives "do-overs", but I don't think this is true.  No failure is final - the principle of grace is really the opportunity to "do-over" - maybe not in the same way, but with a new tidbit of knowledge, a new drive, and a new focus.  One thing is certain - we can fail, but we don't have to let failure define our course.  Just sayin!

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