Test this Theory

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” How many of us have heard that before? Sarcastically from our big brother after we bellyflop in an attempt to swan dive. Or honestly from our best friend after we get dumped by our would-be soul mate. It’s normally offered with at least a hint of sincerity, but is never less welcomed than when your heart or belly is still bleeding. The catchphrase, by nature, is meant to be constructive. In the aftermath of shattered dreams, we’re told that success is inevitable – the only boundary is our refusal to try, try again. But exactly how true could it be?

I’m spending this weekend in Dallas for the National Youth Workers Convention (or NYWC for those who can stomach unpronounceable acronyms). Thanks to a gratuitous discount, I’m residing in a super fancy hotel where mirrors are found at every turn, reminding me of how gangly I look while walking and forcing me to reflect. Sorry for the cheap pun. It also features a billion escalators, each with free admission and promise of adventure as they usher me to yet another floor full of mirrors.

I enjoy escalators far more than mirrors. And I’m one of those people that like to ride the escalator rather than walk it. The only time I decide to walk an escalator is when there’s a host of people behind me moving at exactly the same pace. It freaks me out. But the beauty of an escalator, I believe, is the absolute freedom to do nothing. I could literally lie down while riding and the escalator would see to it that I’m delivered to its destination. People will look at you weird if you test that theory, but I encourage you to try. Once you commit to placing your entire being on the escalator, you will be carried.

For too long in my Christianity I’d “try, try again,” sure that success was inevitable – the only boundary being my decision to cease trying. I believed God’s grace was an escalator, but chose to walk it. I’d try to convince myself that my exertion was simply His work in me, but secretly believed that I was filling in where His grace was lacking. I obliged His escalator, but figured I’d take the stairs if it were ever necessary. I agree. My arrogance is disgusting. Thankfully Jesus has a thing for wretches.

The beautiful thing about the grace of Jesus is that once you commit to placing your entire being on it, you will be carried. Whether it be love for your enemies, hunger for truth, or freedom from addictions, He alone can deliver. You could literally lie down while riding and His grace would see to it that you’re delivered to His destination. And those of you who struggle with that statement are obliging His escalator and figuring you can take the stairs if it were ever necessary. However, His grace has nothing to do with you. It delivers. You ride. Free. Still, people will look at you weird if you test this theory, but I encourage you to try.

“If at first you don’t succeed, try God’s grace.”


3 thoughts on “Test this Theory

  1. Yes, yes, YES! I find that my life often parallels the “Escalator Incident” in the Portland airport a few years back. You know, the one where I and Abby (alas, I have been known to drag my children into my folly) tried running UP the DOWN escalator. Unfortunately I couldn’t keep the pace, tripped and fell at the top, landing on the very official boots of a very non-amused security guard. Abby didn’t get hurt, but I was left with a cut, a severe bruise on my shin, a “warning”, and a tremendously sheepish look on my face.

    In life, I’ve been known to run against God’s flow – Because “What about THAT? He missed THIS! I have to do THE OTHER!” My insistance on making stops or even going backwards SO impedes my walk with HIm. And, sadly, sometimes I carry others along in my misplaced enthusiasm.

    Oh, may I learn to REST in His grace. To trust His direction. To be satisfied with His pace. To feel confident that if we failed to stop at certain places, it’s because He knows where I need to go and when I need to get there.

    I’m gonna be Testin’ the Theory, Matt!

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