Pastor’s June 2018 article

I’m not much of an adventurer. I know what I like and I’m content to stick with the “tried and true” rather than venturing into uncharted waters.

When I visited my daughter in Washington state last year, I discovered one of her agendas was getting me to eat oysters. When she informed me of her intentions, I balked. There was NO way I was going to eat oysters. I didn’t want to eat oysters and didn’t see any reason why I would.

I’ve always resisted eating oysters. They didn’t look appetizing, were small, and expensive. I didn’t see how I would ever make a meal of them. After all, I can get a sandwich, chicken nuggets, fries, and a drink at Wendy’s for about the same price as a couple of oysters. The whole idea didn’t make any sense. 

Plus, whenever I try something new, I’m pretty awkward. The first few times I may look ridiculous. When I leave the safe confines of my comfort zone, there’s a good chance I will fail. Instead of potential embarrassment, I play it safe and stick to things I already know. Nobody likes to fail. Not even me! 

But, what if my view of failure is wrong? 

When God led Israel to the edge of the promised land, they had to face those who were already in the land. Fear gripped them. What if the land “devoured” them? What if they weren’t strong enough? What if they were defeated? What if they failed?

Because they were afraid of failing, they decided not to enter the land. Instead, they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. Perhaps their experience defines “spinning our wheels.” 

For the Israelites, choosing to play it safe was the real failure. Not following God’s directive to enter the land kept them from succeeding. 

Fear of failure can make us shrink back. We choose the safety known rather than risking the unknown. We find a comfortable spot and get stuck. We stay us on the sidelines. Instead of moving forward, we wander, spinning our wheels getting nowhere fast.

What would happen if we saw failure differently? Instead of fearing awkwardness and unfamiliarity, what if we viewed failure as an resistance to take the “next step?” What would happen if we viewed true failure as a decision not to try?

If we are going to grow, we will try new things. To grow is to change. If we are moving forward, we will have to try things and risk getting things wrong. Failure is not getting things wrong, doing a bad job, or even being defeated. Failure is getting stuck and refusing to go to new places or try new things.

God constantly calls us to move forward even when the way seems unclear and the future unsure. The Israelites are an example of what happens when we shrink back into safety when God calls us forward in faith. 

God is calling. He is calling us to new places, fresh expressions of his love. Our task is to listen and follow. 

In Washington, I discovered that my daughter is persistent; very persistent. She also isn’t afraid to try new things. She wanted her dad to experience something new as well.  

Did I eat oysters? Yes, but VERY reluctantly. Did I fail eating the oysters? It depends. My daughter and wife got a laugh out of seeing me struggle to get the first oyster down. But after the first one, I did much better. I wasn’t a fan of the oysters, but I did cherish the new experience I had with my daughter.

The other day I read that true success was making a difference. I have to agree. However, making a difference may mean we have to try something new. When we become involved in activities and opportunities that stretch us, we grow. Following Jesus into new opportunities can also transform us, causing our faith to grow along with our confidence.

I’m glad my daughter didn’t give up on me. Because of my oyster eating experience, a few days later, I even tried clams. The clams weren’t too bad. I wouldn’t have known if I never tried the oysters.

Don’t allow fear keep you from moving forward to places of blessing. May you hear Jesus persistently calling you to new things and ways to make a difference. If you want help finding opportunities, just write “involve” on the Connect Card in the bulletin.