Let me be clear from the beginning. I have made a lot of mistakes during my life. I have made mistakes that I don’t even know about to this day. Even the ones I do know about, I cannot remember very clearly.
Mistakes are a part of life. Unfortunately, some people believe they live their whole life without making any mistakes.
That’s mistake number one.
I am where I am today because of the mistakes in my life. I have learned a lot from my mistakes, except I have not learned not to make any more mistakes.
If somebody has not made mistakes in life, I would have to give that award to the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage. Perhaps the closest she has ever come to making a mistake was in marrying me, but that certainly was not my mistake at all. Marrying her was the best choice I have ever made in life.
I suppose she does make mistakes, but she knows how to fix them before anybody notices them. I wish I knew how she does that.
Those who think they make no mistakes in life are just kidding themselves and are not really living.
I remember several years ago a mistake I made. I planned to fill up my truck with gas for the week. It was clearly on empty. I should never have let it get that low, but I did.
As I drove to the gas station, I thought of something I needed to pick up at Publix, which was on the way. So I stopped, went in and bought the item I wanted and then went out to get in my truck and go get some gas.
As I turned the key to start the engine, it did not start. I didn’t know what to do at the time. I tried my best to start it, but nothing I did manage to start it.
Then, I looked at the fuel tank gauge and saw that it had passed empty, and according to that, the truck was out of gas.
That was a big mistake. That mistake brought me a terrible consequence.
I sat in the truck for a few moments staring at my cell phone. I knew what I had to do, but I didn’t want to do it. In a few minutes, I tried to start it again, and I had the same result.
Quietly sitting in the truck, I continued staring at my cell phone. I had no option at the time. I had to do what I had to do.
So, I called the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage.
“My dear,” I said as sweetly as possible, which is above my pay grade, “could you get a can of gasoline and bring it to me? I’m over here at Publix.”
I heard silence on the other end, and then I heard chuckling.
“Are you telling me,” she said, trying not to chuckle, “that your truck is out of gas?”
Of course, she knew the answer to that question, but she used it to poke me.
“No,” I said sarcastically, “I just want to know if you can bring me a can of gasoline to Publix.”
I think she could feel the frustration in my voice.
That certainly was another mistake added onto the first mistake.
“Oh,” she said, “I might be able to get over there in about three hours.”
I did hear her chuckling over the phone. I pretended I did not hear her chuckling, which was another mistake.
I hung up the phone and sat in my truck thinking that I had a three-hour wait until she got there with the gas for the truck.
On my fourth deep sigh, I saw my wife driving her van and park right next to my truck. I saw her through the window with the biggest smile I’ve ever seen her wear.
She got out of her van and said, “Is this the truck that’s out of gas?”
At this point, I had exhausted all of my mistakes and just soberly nodded my head in the affirmative.
She got a can of gas out of her van and set it down next to my truck. I picked it up and emptied it into my truck’s gas tank.
When finished, I put the can back in her van and closed the door. Then, I looked at her and simply said, “Thank you so much for your help.”
She chuckled and said, “Do you think you ought to go and fill your truck up with gas now?”
Being all out of mistakes at this point, I told her, “I’m going right now and fill this truck up with as much gas as I can get.”
I took my time going to the gas station and filling up my truck because I knew I would experience the next stage of my wife’s giggling about my mistake as soon as I got home.
My biggest lessons have come from mistakes I’ve made. But the lessons only come when I deal with the error and make it right.
I like what David said, “Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults” (Psalm 19:12).
It’s one thing to deal with the mistakes at hand, but it’s another thing to be cleansed from secret faults. So I’m learning to deal with the mistakes that I don’t know I’m making each day.
Reverend James L. Snyder is an award-winning author whose writings have appeared in more than eighty periodicals including GUIDEPOSTS. In Pursuit of God: The Life of A. W. Tozer, Snyder’s first book, won the Reader’s Choice Award in 1992 by Christianity Today. Snyder has authored 15 books altogether. Through more than thirty-five years of ministry, he and his wife Martha have been involved in three church-planting projects prior to their current ministry at the Family of God Fellowship in Ocala, Florida. The Snyders have three children and seven grandchildren.