You know, for a long time now I've been a little suspicious about the standards that Universities maintain for their star athletes. I hear some of these college seniors, or graduates who are now playing in professional sports, and they often seem to struggle to put together an intelligent sentence. They sound more like they're at Junior High level. Well, I recently came across a little story that only fuels my suspicions...
It seems that a college football coach was faced with the possibility that his star player might be declared ineligible for academic reasons. So he pleaded with the chemistry professor not to flunk the athlete. The professor was willing to negotiate. He said, "I'll tell you what, coach, I'll ask him a question in your presence and if he gets it right I'll pass him." The athlete was called in and the professor asked, "What is H2O?" The player answered, "Water," and immediately the coach called out frantically, "Give him another chance! Please give him another chance!"
I hate to fail. I can't imagine that anyone likes to fail. I've often found it hard to know what to do with failure. Failure makes me emotional. I'm tempted to act impulsively in the wake of failure. No, I don't like failure at all, but I've certainly known my share of it in my life.
I once read an interesting story about a vice-president at IBM who had come up with an idea to set up a separate division. He was given permission by the then CEO, Thomas Watson, but when he put the plan in motion, he promptly lost ten million dollars. Not surprisingly, he was devastated by this failure and he walked into Watson's office and informed him that he was resigning. When Watson asked him why, he said, "Because this thing is such a miserable failure." But Watson said, "You're not resigning after I just spent ten million dollars on your education." I really love that!
That's an attitude I can appreciate. If my past mistakes were translated into currency, I think it could reasonably be said that God has spent at least ten million dollars on my education. What's so amazing is that he hasn't put me on the shelf. When I fail, He doesn't treat me like a loser. Instead, He gives me another chance to get it right. It's really humbling, but it's also consistent with what a loving father does. When my children were first learning to walk, they kept falling down. It seems like they fell more than they walked. But, as their father, I was thrilled with each step. I couldn't imagine saying to them, "That's it, we're done, you just don't get it, you'll never walk." Of course not. Instead, I kept encouraging them, giving them repeated chances to develop their ability. I saw beyond the present stumbling to focus on what I knew they would become. And that's the gracious way in which God has patiently dealt with me.
One of my favorite promises is found in Philippians 1:6 where the apostle Paul wrote that he was "confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." I've come to realize that God has invested a lot in me. He has spent endless hours building me up as a person. He has sent others to teach me, encourage me, and sometimes even to correct me. He watches over me constantly while he arranges circumstances (that I don't always appreciate at the time) designed to make me more like Him. It's not ten million dollars that He's invested in me. It's worth much more than money. In fact, what He's invested in me is priceless.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price..." And that price was nothing less than the very life of Jesus, a life He was willing to lay down so that I could have another chance. It still blows my mind.