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“Clutching My Cane--Straightening the Derby!” Acts 8: 18-25 Key verse(s): 24: “Then Simon answered, ‘Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me.’”



There’s an old East Texas saying: “It doesn’t matter how much milk you spill just so long as you don’t lose the cow.” To put it into even simpler terms: mistakes don’t make failures, mismanaging those mistakes can. The great performer and comedian Charlie Chaplin put it this way: “No matter how desperate the predicament is, I am always very much in earnest about clutching my cane, straightening my derby hat and fixing my tie, even though I have just landed on my head.”


No one likes making mistakes. There is a distinctive feel about mistakes that engenders this. Once we discover the mistake we are usually overtaken with embarrassment. With embarrassment comes the natural human tendency to step into denial. “What mistake?” Finally, when the inevitability of the mistake become undeniable, it is easy to slip into shame and despair. “How could I make such a mistake?” Not a pretty picture for any of us! But, if mistakes are a good thing as we are most often instructed to believe, what is the process for avoiding the shame and despair? There are two pathways to take when a mistake becomes apparent in our lives. We can take the easier path, the one that is wide at the beginning and inviting or the one that is narrower and less inclining. Which way to go? When we realize that the wide path is deceptive, leading us only to a precipitous end over a winding and rocky way, it will be far easier to enter the narrow one to begin with. For that path, though narrow and demanding, is straight and level.


“A biology professor took a small group of young biologists into the desert for intensive study. Miles from civilization, the vehicle in which they were traveling broke down. The group set out on foot on an estimated three-day trek back to their campus. After two days of hard travel, they reached the summit of a huge sand dune. Thirsty and sunburned, they looked around them. Far off to the right was what appeared to be a lake with small trees surrounding it. The students jumped and screamed for joy. But the teacher, who had often been in the area before, knew they were seeing a mirage. He presented the bad news to them, sharing the facts as best he could. But insisting their eyes could not deceive them, the students rebelled. Unable to convince them of their error, the professor permitted them to head off in the direction of the alleged ‘lake,’ while he would take another course. He made them promise that after they discovered it was a mirage, they would sit down and wait for him to return with help. Three hours later the students arrived at a plush new desert resort which had four swimming pools and six restaurants. Two hours after that they set out in a Land Rover with rangers to search for their teacher. And he was never found.” (Charles Sell, The House on the Rock)


If you have made such a mistake in your life, be quick to admit it, repent of it and ask for prayer on your behalf. In so doing, a lesson will be the product of your error rather than a failure. The easiest way to avoid failure is to embrace the mistake and not run from it.

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