As a kid, when I played sports, I spent a lot of time on the bench. You see I wasn’t the best player, I wasn’t the fastest, the strongest. When the coach would call my name “Simon get over here” I always responded “water or Gatorade?”
A few times in my career I had my opportunity to make an impact on a game. Not too long ago, I was in the Mabee Center, ORU’s home arena. It was a men’s home game and I had my chance to make my mark. We had been winning for almost the entire game and it was the last few seconds of the game. We needed a score to win.
After a break in the action, a play unfolded where I found myself on the court breaking away uncontested to the basket with just a few seconds left. I approached the goal for an uncontested layup.I had been on fire that night. I had only missed one shot the entire night. This was my chance to put the game away. As I headed for the goal, the sound in the room began to change. It was as though all the volume was cut off and all I could hear was my breathing and my heart beating in my chest.The game was on the line. The reality only began to hit me as I approached the goal.
The enormity of the moment overwhelmed me and I short-armed the layup and it bounced out. I was quickly able to grab the rebound and could see that time was about to expire, I hurriedly heaved the second shot and it rimmed out. Amazingly, I grabbed the rebound and was able to shot a third time before time ran out.And then it was over. I began to hear the crowd again and I could tell the game was over. I had lost the game. I instinctively shot the ball a fourth time knowing it would do me no good.
I had choked.
Now some of you are thinking… “I didn’t know he played for ORU”. I didn’t. I was called out of the crowd at an ORU game as part of a Bank of Oklahoma challenge for a $500 prize. 6 contestants were selected randomly from the crowd. We played a game of musical chairs at half-court where we had to bounce the basketball in a circle around the chairs and when the music stopped we had to run to one of the goals as fast as we could to make a layout and return to the dwindling number of chairs. I survived to the final 2 and lost in the last round.
Several people from my church were there that night. One was even the public address announcer. I made my way back to my seat feeling pretty bad. I had just lost $500. I went back to my seat and my youngest daughter was almost in tears. Expecting consolation, I heard the words, “Dad, you lost the money”.
I won’t tell you that the guy who beat me missed his first shot and fell flat on his back on the court and recovered and was almost back to the chair at half court before I made my shot.
That next week I was in Tulsa and someone who had been at the game approached me and asked me if I had been at the game that week. When I said,”yes”, he immediately began to say —-“I knew it ! You were the guy that choked and lost the $500.”
Failure is a part of life. I’m reminder of the story of Peter attempting to walk on water. Peter stepped out of the boat, but within a few steps, he was sinking like a rock. The moment had overwhelmed him. Too often we look at Peter’s story and think he was a failure, but I’m convinced he wasn’t a failure. In fact, he showed great courage… and the reality is, Peter and Jesus are the only 2 to have ever walked on water.
The other eleven disciples never experienced the exhilaration and satisfaction of stepping out of the boat. If you want to follow God’s plan for your life, failure will be a part of the journey.
Don’t fear failure. Use it as a tool to help you grow and trust God more completely.
He’s got big things in store for you and getting out of the boat might just be the first step toward your next breakthrough.