For many years he had been a forgotten figure, having been resigned by public opinion to be a part of history and no longer a part of shaping it. He was born a prodigy and rose to the top of his sport at an early age winning tournaments at will. He set records at every level and being the winner became the norm in sport where very few had been dominant. He was lauded as the most transformative athlete of his generation. He was so dominant the game was changed to make it harder for him to succeed and supposedly open doors for others. The result was more wins and more domination. He married a supermodel. He purchased a yacht. Then it all came crashing down as his body began to suffer injury, his marriage dissolved into a high profile divorce with all the world passing judgement on his sins. He went from being at the top of his sport to having to rely upon exemptions which wealthy donors made allowing him to play in tournaments. His body was so racked with pain he turned to drugs to sit up straight and drive his kids to school, the result was an arrest for DUI. Three surgeries had done nothing to improve his condition so he sought a fourth experimental surgery. He continued to surround himself with people who would push him and nurture his great talent. He embraced the naysayers cordially. He laughed along with those who laughed at him. He dug deeper and pushed harder. Then one spring day 11 years after his last triumph he stood hands raised having reached the top yet again while others applauded in awe.
The young man scurried through the foreign desert attempting to avoid detection as he was in the process of what would be known as the longest prisoner of war escape. Crossing more than 300 miles, the young man was undoubtedly drawing upon his vast experience at the age of 26. He was a popular author having written three best selling books, he had been on the front lines of four different wars on three different continents. He parlayed his fame into a political career which saw him rise fast and become the head of the navy for his country. War called on him again and he crafted the most daring military plan to defeat the enemy. It involved the lives of hundreds of thousands of men and the result of was a dismal defeat and the loss of over 100,000 lives under his command. His stature among his peers and the public tarnished he was relegated to being a distant voice and guidance was heard but to whom nobody listened. As he warned of great dangers in world politics, he was mocked and ridiculed. Then, the world was embroiled in a great war yet again and he was reluctantly dusted off and handed the mantle of history. His tenor and demeanor single handily led the world. He coerced the leadership of the free world to join the battle for freedom. He reminded folks nightly in fireside conversations who they were, where they had come from and where they were headed. He made the tough decisions and often was more of a hammer looking for a nail and sometimes hitting a baby. The result was the saving of western civilization and for his accomplishments he was promptly voted out of office.
What do these two men and their lives have in common? They were both very flawed humans whose sins were touted almost as much or more than their accomplishments. However, both of them had an impact on those around them which was extraordinarily positive. They both realized failure is always an option. They simply willed themselves not to let their failures define them.
In Galatians 6:9, we are instructed "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." God tells us our path will not be easy as Christians. As a matter of fact it will be more difficult because what is of the flesh is deceptively more alluring. However, if you sow seeds of the flesh you will "reap destruction" and if you sow seeds of the spirit you will receive "eternal life". Don't be focused on the short term gains! Focus instead on the prize of eternal life which is the by-product of HARD WORK!
Please realize failure is always an option. We chose in our lives to let failure define us or to elect a path whereby we know we are apt to fail. Success is also an option. Steeling ourselves to make these day to day decisions toward success or failure is part of life. Choose success. Choose good mentors, choose righteousness, choose a healthy lifestyle, choose wise counsel, seek new skills, push past and through the pains of life because on the other side is eternal life.
Tiger Woods was crowned the 2019 Masters Champion for a fifth time at the age of 43. He came from behind for the first time in his career to win the major championship. He won $2.1 million. What you will not hear told is how in his 11 year absence from winning his presence at events generated hundreds of millions for other players. His accomplishments generated hundreds of millions of dollars in endorsements for other players because before Tiger golfers made less money in endorsements than hockey players.What you will not hear is how his presence led to the construction of hundreds of golf courses as more people were drawn to play the game creating countless billions of dollars in jobs and economic gain. He never gave up and by so doing elevated not only himself but those around him.
Winston Churchill's accomplishments are too many to begin listing. He bounced between failure and success his whole life. He never let failure or success define him. He kept moving the goal posts of life and reaching further. I will close with his own words on the matter:
“Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never–in nothing great or small, large or petty–never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”