"Goodness is not the absence of badness. You can do nothing wrong and still do nothing right. Our calling is much higher than simply running away from what's wrong." Mark Batterson from In A Pit With A Lion on A Snowy Day
Much of my "good little Christian" experience I learned in church, consisting of a list of don'ts, can'ts, and shouldn'ts. I grew up thinking that if I could just avoid doing this or that, I'd be considered a pretty good Christian gal. Like, if I didn't cheat, steal, lie, commit adultery or murder, God would greet me at the pearly gates someday with a gold star for my forehead.
Oops…gold star vanishes.
But I've been thinking about that a lot lately. I don't think the Christian life is meant to be lived so wimpishly or defensively as always being focused on what not to do. If we're always trying so hard not to do wrong, we'll become so distracted, we'll forget to figure out what we're here to DO. If we think we're making a good life just because we're not "doing wrong," we're still not focused on being productive world-changers who live out the divine adventure life. Which, by the way, might include making some mistakes along the way.
In his book, Falling Into the Face of God, Bill Elliott is out for a little 40-day camping trip in the Judean wilderness (something about wanting to experience what Jesus did), and he's having a conversation with God, hopefully not brought on by one of his heatstroke episodes.
Bill: "I'm afraid I'm doing it wrong."
God: "I love you, Bill, and you are a good man who's done his best—you learn from your mistakes. And mistakes? The world is full of mistakes! It's built on mistakes.
Still God: "You know those places—when you climb a mountain—those places where you put your feet or your hands and then pull and push yourself up? Those places are your mistakes. You get up the mountain through mistakes."
The point is, this person was out climbing the mountain. Making mistakes while climbing a mountain is better than sitting at home wishing you were getting a view from the top. Sinking into a sea after walking around on top of it for a few minutes is better than sitting in a boat, watching and wondering what it must have been like.
A friend of mine, Connie, told me about a personal experience she had. And this was before drugs. ☺ Connie was having a major surgery, giving one of her kidneys to her brother, when she had complications and actually "died" on the table. She had one of those out of body experiences you hear about where she could see the room, and see herself lying on the surgery table, doctors working to revive her. All of this she saw from up above somewhere.
And while Connie was in the space between life and death, she was overcome with sadness. She told me that she was filled with deep regret. Not for the things she did wrong, but for the things she didn't do right to live out the purpose God put her on this earth for. She asked Him for another chance to come back to do the things she was supposed to do the first time. Things that might mean making a few mistakes along the way.
We will mess up. We will make mistakes. But let's not live scared of doing something wrong and in the mean time, miss the mountain top.