This is a picture of my basil plant. What?! You can’t tell? Well, it had a little sprout a week ago, but it has since died. And so ends the sad tale of my third failed attempt at growing herbs. Now I’m off to the garden store for another packet of seeds and hopefully some knowledgeable instruction on how to coax my little plants to a more fruitful life. The third time proved not to be the charm, but perhaps success is just another attempt away.
How striking the parallel between my herb-growing misadventures and life. Sometimes it seems like the only thing I’m successful at is failing. I fail to communicate clearly the message that was in my heart to share; I fail to retain the interest of a particular student; I fail to correctly discern God’s will in a given matter; I fail to get a new business off the ground after months of planning and preparing; I fail to pray enough, memorize enough, show love enough, or share the Gospel enough. And on the list goes. Truly, my life is wrought with failure. And yet, in the midst of it I am compelled to cling to the promise of success.
The promise of success rests not in achieving the end for which I aim, but in the eternal constancy of the laws of God. Weariness gives way to another season of planting because He promises that “in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”1 The temptation to stop serving is replaced with another day of diligent labor because He promises that “your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”2 The pull to veer onto the easier path of the ungodly is kept in check by the promise that delighting and meditating in the law of the Lord ends with “whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”3
Thus, myriad failures are overcome because the faithfulness of God is great, and His mercies are “new every morning.”4 I am convinced that failure is a very necessary part of our continued growth and dependence upon the Lord. The more I cling to His promises of success, the more I find my understanding of true success redefined. Indeed, perhaps it is in repeated failure that we can claim our greatest success.