“For we all stumble in many ways…” -James 3:2
Everyone fumbles now and again, even great ones like Drew Brees. Even though he had not fumbled the ball a single time during the entire regular season of 2019, one fumble toward the end of a play-off game was all it took to send him and the Saints home with the loss. Under pressure, the ball slipped out of his hands and that was it. Hoping to make a run for the Super Bowl this year, instead Brees will get to watch it on television.
In football, once the ball is in the hands of the other team, your shot at recovering from a fumble is gone. At that point, you just have to live with it.
Thankfully, the same isn’t true in life. In life you always have a shot at recovering from a fumble. The essence of the gospel is that no matter what you’ve done (or haven’t done), by God’s grace, you can recover. Be it a bad decision, a relationship failure, or relapse into some self-destructive behavior, the game isn’t over for you. There is still time on the clock and because of Jesus, you are not defined by your past stats.
If you have recently been humbled by a fumble, these biblical practices can help you recover and move forward as a person:
Honest assessment. This is the lost art of calling it what it is. None of us like this too much, but it really is step-one in recovering from a fumble. To be willing and able to say so when you mess up is a clear mark of maturity while denial and spinning it are mere child’s play. Plain and simple, the earlier we confess our mess to God, the better:
8If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. 9 But if we confess our sins to him [God], he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. –I John 1:8-9 (See also Psalm 32:3-5)
Humble acceptance. If you did it, own it. Whether it was an offense that affected a lot of people or something that happened in private, be big enough to accept responsibility. Rather than just saying “It is what it is,” maybe we need to say something like, “It is what it is because of the choices I made.” This takes courage and trust that God still loves you, no matter what.
Healthy adjustment. If we leave off at 1 & 2 without going to 3, we will just be looping at 1 & 2 with little to no change. At some point, we have to consider making some healthy adjustments to our thinking and behavior. Because of Christ, we are never condemned by our past, but we can always learn from it. It isn’t so much about what we quit doing, but what we start doing.
Fumbling is part of life. No matter how long you have followed Jesus and no matter how big your faith is, there are days you will feel the ball slip out of your hands and the gut-wrenching ache that goes with it. I did that again? This is why the gospel and promises like I John 1:9 never get old.
You can imagine Drew Brees will be replaying that season-ending fumble over and again in his head during the next several months. What about you? Are you just replaying your fumbles, or recovering from them?
It’s a new day with God. Run with it.