Fail Harder

If you have never read the Bible before, there are some really rousing sections that you may way to check out. Passages where you can practically hear the roaring crowds, see the confetti flying, and feel yourself being lifted up onto the team’s shoulders.

After the death of Moses the servant of God, God spoke to Joshua, Moses’ assistant: “Moses my servant is dead. Get going. Cross this Jordan River, you and all the people. Cross to the country I’m giving to the People of Israel. I’m giving you every square inch of the land you set your foot on—just as I promised Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon east to the Great River, the Euphrates River—all the Hittite country—and then west to the Great Sea. It’s all yours. All your life, no one will be able to hold out against you. In the same way I was with Moses, I’ll be with you. I won’t give up on you; I won’t leave you. Strength! Courage! You are going to lead this people to inherit the land that I promised to give their ancestors. Give it everything you have, heart and soul. Make sure you carry out The Revelation that Moses commanded you, every bit of it. Don’t get off track, either left or right, so as to make sure you get to where you’re going. And don’t for a minute let this Book of The Revelation be out of mind. Ponder and meditate on it day and night, making sure you practice everything written in it. Then you’ll get where you’re going; then you’ll succeed. Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take.” (Joshua 1:1-9)

This is God’s Word on the subject: “As soon as Babylon’s seventy years are up and not a day before, I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” God’s Decree. I’ll turn things around for you. I’ll bring you back from all the countries into which I drove you”—God’s Decree—“bring you home to the place from which I sent you off into exile. You can count on it.” (Jeremiah 29:10-14)

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. (Romans 8:26-28)

One of the things important about these passages is what they do not say. Read back over them again. None of them promise it’s going to be easy, none of them promise that you the reader are going to win, and none of them say exactly when the victory is going to happen.

Instead, Joshua is told to be strong and courageous multiple times…because he is going into war. Jeremiah preaches to the people that God has a plan for them…after they are exiled into a foreign land for a generation. And Paul promises that everything in the people’s lives is working together for good…including all of their present suffering. Each of these passages is part of an epic story, but none of them are the final chapter. In fact, we’re not even sure which chapter we’re in right now.


The picture at the start of this post is a poster I spotted recently in a public school hallway. The unfinished coloring of “Fail Harder” was worth being a little bit late (okay, more late) to a meeting to capture a photograph of. At first I thought it was sarcasm, a poster taped up by a student without permission. The visual equivalent of “Your Mom” or some other insult that I never quite understood. But with pristine walls all around, and a cleaning crew down the hallway, I was confident that this was a sanctioned piece of the school. So what did it mean?

When you fail at something, that means you tried. In my mind, if you never start or quit, that isn’t failing. Failing is when you try and someone or something stops you. After a few weeks on a new project this spring, I bought myself a gold star necklace as a reward for trying (and wear it even today as I keep trying at it).

If I’m going to fail, well might as well dive in 100% and make it some epic failures. I’m going to put on my gold star and try to fail harder this week.

If all goes super well, I’ll fail at failing. (fingers crossed)

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