The Next One
The Next One
A few years ago I was playing in a golf tournament for my high school. I remember it being a rough day for me. I couldn’t seem to do anything right. There was one instance where my coach was watching me as I hit a bad shot. As the frustration continued to stew within, I distinctly remember him calmly walking up to me, and with a smile on his face he said, “Caleb, do you know what the most important shot in golf is?” I wasn’t really sure what kind of answer he was looking for, so I just shook my head wondering what he meant by this question. What he told me next was something that I have never forgotten. He said, “The most important shot in golf is the next one.” I didn’t know at first what he meant by that, but after a while it all made sense. In golf if you hit a bad shot, you cannot dwell on it, because if you do, you are not able to focus on the next one. As a result, your next shot will be as bad, if not worse than the previous one. In the game of golf, you have to be able to move on and let that bad shot be in the past.
I’m not writing to reveal the secrets to playing good golf, because I’m still looking for that myself. But, I feel as though this same principle applies to our everyday lives. Whenever we sin or fall short, we have to be able to own up to our mistakes and move on. The moment we let sin and the guilt of sin consume us, it’s at that point mentally we’ll struggle to repent, accept God’s grace, and move on. While it’s always wise to learn from our failures, it’s never wise to dwell on the past in hopelessness, forgetting that forgiveness is offered to every sinner who humbles himself and seeks God’s favor. Failure does not have to be final.
Whenever I think of this lesson, one of the best examples from the Bible that comes to mind is the apostle Paul. Here we have a man who spent most of his early life persecuting Christians. In fact, in Paul’s first letter to Timothy he tells him in chapter 1 verse 15, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am foremost.” While on the road to Damascus, the Lord confronted Paul and revealed to him his sins. We can learn a great lesson by noticing what Paul did when he realized he had made mistakes. While many people would’ve felt sorry for themselves and never made an effort to change, Paul didn’t respond like many do today. With godly sorrow and great zeal, he repented of his sins and decided to turn things around. In Philippians chapter 3 and in verse 13, Paul told the church in Philippi what he was able to do following his previous sins, “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.” We see here that Paul did not let the sins he committed in the past keep him from doing what he needed to do in the present. In fact, he was able to learn from them and use those mistakes as a tool to help not only himself, but the people before whom he preached.
In order to help ourselves through our everyday struggles, we have to first understand and accept this simple idea…We all make mistakes! Romans 3:23 says “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” But it’s like what Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.” Your character is not defined by never committing sin; your character is defined by how you respond to the mistakes you make.
Going back to my golf illustration…think of some of the greatest golfers in the world. People don’t talk about how they pulled their tee shot into the woods. People talk about how they were able to move past that shot and respond with an incredible shot out of the woods, onto the green, for a putt to win the tournament. These athletes understand they’ll make the occasional mistake, but what makes them so good is they’re able to quickly learn from their mistake, not dwell on the bad shot, and move on to the next one.
However, some people struggle to move on. They believe their life is “unrecoverable” and begin to lose hope because of past failures. They start asking themselves “Why even bother getting back up?” They say things like, “I know I’m just going to mess up,” or “There’s no way God would ever forgive someone who’s made as many mistakes as me.”
I’m writing this to tell you there is in fact hope for us all! 1 Peter 1:3-6 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy, He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you.”
OUR HOPE IS IN HEAVEN!
This promise and hope was only made possible by the love of God through the sending of His Son to die for us. Jesus is the reason we can get back up. Jesus is the One who will help and heal. So as you go out into the world and live your everyday life, the next time you “hit a bad shot,” what will you do with the next one?