07 October, 2008

Learning from Mistakes

Learning from mistakes should be a integral part of our lives.

Mistakes happen, so why let them go to waste? Post-mistake is an excellent time to evaluate what happened, what went wrong, and how you can keep from making the same mistake again. While learning from our own mistakes is vitally important, learning from the mistakes of others can be incredibly valuable as well. Sometimes we can learn life lessons from the time other people spend in the well attended School of Hard Knocks.

This morning I was reading in the book of Matthew, chapter 8, and I came across the familiar story in verses 23 to 28 about Jesus and the disciples as they crossed the Sea of Galilee in a ship.

It would appear that in this story that the disciples didn't handle this very intense, very difficult situation correctly, evidenced by the fact that Jesus rebukes them for their fear and their lack of faith.

So in my desire to learn from the mistakes of others, I started to think about what the disciples should have done instead. What would have been the right way for them to deal with the circumstances they were going through?

They get into the ship and start sailing; an activity these well-seasoned fisherman had engaged in many times before. Somewhere along the line, Jesus goes down below to take a nap. Up on deck, the wind starts to blow, the skies begin to darken, and the storm begins to descend on this small ship in the Sea of Galilee.

These men have surely been through a rough storm or two in their lives. Growing up around the sea and ships, following in the footsteps of their fathers, these guys were not freshmen sailors.

So as the storm grew in intensity and strength, what was going through their minds? Was this storm worse than any of the previous storms they had experienced in their lives? How much worse? At what point in the storm did they decide that this particular storm was going to cause them to perish?

One of the greatest practical applications of this passage is trusting in what Jesus said. Jesus told the disciples they were going to the other side of the lake, as told in Luke 8:22. He didn't say, "We are going to get on a boat and then die in the middle of the Sea of Galilee together. So the clear lesson for us is to trust in what God says He will do, even if it looks like your boat is sinking in a storm.

What mistakes then can we learn from in this story? What would have happened if the disciples had weathered the storm for just a few more moments? Was the plan of Jesus all along to wake up and calm the storm? How could the disciples have chosen to be controlled by faith instead of fear?

These are intriguing questions, but ones we will not know the answers to until we are with our Lord. So in conclusion, here are some practical points of application I drew out for my own life:

  • Trust God. If He said He is taking me to the other side, then I need to trust Him in that. Even if I don't see how it could possibly happen. The disciples were afraid, and Jesus rebuked them for that. They feared the storm instead of trusting of Him who would never leave them nor forsake them. I John 4:10-19 talks about the love relationship we need to have with God through His Son Jesus Christ, and that this love relationship casts out fear.
  • Learn to nap with Jesus. Why should I worry about something that God is not worried about? I need to follow God's lead in all things. If the only concern of Jesus during the storm is whether to sleep on his left side or his right, then why am I freaking out because I think I am about to die? I should be resting in Him.
  • Hold on in the storm. It may seem that God is asleep and not aware of the tempest around me, but it is not true. If I will wait on Him and trust, He has a plan to deal with the storm in just the right way and at just the right time. Hold on a little longer. So many times the test of our faith is in the waiting.

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