Mistakes! We (or at least those of us who are honest with ourselves) all make mistakes and some of us make more than our share. Sometimes our mistakes are in secret where no one knows and we have the opportunity to cover them up before anyone can detect them. Other mistakes are out in the open for all to see. These mistakes are embarrassing and humiliating and causes us to cringe in our skin. Then there are mistakes that we think we are the only ones who know but over time the mistake is revealed by others and causes a time delayed embarrassment from us.
This last one is the kind of mistake that Moses made when he was younger. “One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people (Jewish) were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, “Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?” The man said, “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and thought, “What I did must have become known” (Exodus 2:11-14)
Moses made a mistake and tried to cover it up. When he was found out, fear gripped him and he ran. He ran for 40 years and thought about what he had done. Have you ever made a mistake and that mistake haunted you for years? For 40 years? Whether it is one where everyone knew about, or was made in secret, guilt over the mistake haunts your mind and thoughts for years. I have made one of those kind of mistakes and thoughts of “being put out to pasture” or “being put up on the shelf” invade your daily or weekly thoughts. I can truly imagine what Moses was thinking when he said to the Lord, “Who am I” in a negative context.
The second characteristic of a humble person is that God gives second chances. Humbleness opens up the opportunity to have a second chance. A do over. A re-make. A fresh start. A remodel. God came to Moses and knew what he had done in the past. He saw his humble attitude over the years and wanted to give him a second chance. We think that a mistake is a stigma, and that it is final to take us out of the race of life. But it’s not. Mistakes are environments to school us in humility. There is a difference between a mistake and failure.
Mistakes can be categorized by an illustration of my son learning how to walk. He gets up, takes his first step and trips on a coffee table leg. If he looks at the situation and thinks, I will never be good and walking and crawls the rest of his life, he has failed at walking. But if he looks at the situation, learns from it, and gets up and takes more and more steps, he has made a mistake. Mistakes are trip-ups in life we learn from and move forward. Failure is where we have given up.
On this journey, there will be second chances for those who are humble as we learn from our mistakes and get back in the race. Maybe today is the time to take that next step forward. As one person said, “The difference between greatness and mediocrity is often how an individual views a mistake.”