A bit of a twist on the popular adage.
One of my many jobs as a young man was as a laborer on the yard crew at a cement plant. Eight hours a day five days a week on the end of a shovel, or Mexican backhoe, as they used to call it. Cleaning up spills and messes. Once I got a rhythm going I could go hard all day, stopping only for the usual breaks. But I hated it because the pay was low, and the guys on the crew were a tough bunch of cussing chewing boozing losers. On top of it all we had to work under the kilns in a tunnel that ran about as hot as your typical sauna. I have already told the story of how I volunteered for and got a position running one of the company bulldozers, having never run one before, and how I went to a friend who was an equipment operator for a quick tutorial before jumping on the machine at 7:30 the very next morning. Three weeks later I had a wealth of experience and a fat wallet. Moral of the story–nothing ventured nothing gained.
This morning I was reading in John’s Gospel about Peter’s attack on the servant in the garden and his three-fold denial of Jesus in the courtyard of the high priest. It is easy to focus on Peter’s failure without remembering that he put himself in the position to fail by wanting to be with Jesus. The others had fled (except John). Peter wanted to follow the Lord and try to help, and in so doing risked his life. Because he did not take the safe course of retreat he was vulnerable to failure. Nothing ventured nothing failed.
Same thing in the Matthew 14 storm incident where Peter alone of the terrified disciples dared to think he could walk on water. But at Jesus’ directive to come off Peter went. Yes, he lacked the faith to stay afloat, but at least he tried. Notice that he asked Jesus first to bid him come, so that when he stepped out of the boat he was obeying a command. He tried and sank. Nothing ventured nothing failed.
Peter was impulsive. He had more confidence in his ability than he had ability. He needed to learn this, and his experience in the courtyard that fateful night prepared him for what was to come. Less than two months later he stood in the power of the Spirit preaching to the multitudes on Pentecost. Three-thousand saved in one day. There could be no question in Peter’s mind about his part in it. He had no illusions of grandeur because he had gained valuable insight into his own limitations. Failure is not always bad, ultimately: from it we learn to depend on God. They payoff is not always immediate, however.
Nothing ventured nothing failed? That sounds like the attitude of the unfaithful steward who buried his coin in the ground. Dare to trust God today as you are faced with opportunities to serve Him. Don’t be foolish; base your decisions on the wisdom of His Word. Dare to take the calculated risk of sharing with that friend, neighbor, or fellow worker. Who knows what will happen. Step out of the warm comfort zone on the sidelines. Get into the game.
Nothing ventured nothing failed?
Failure is not in the eye of the beholder. Think of what Peter’s denial looked like to him and the other disciples. Who would have ever guessed then that the Big Fisherman would be so mightily used of God?
Nothing ventured nothing gained. I like that better, along with It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. (What does that have to do with anything? Well, I’m not sure, but it seemed like a good time to throw it in.)