“I’ll Try Harder.” (Matthew 14:28-31)

Over the past twenty five years, it has been my privilege to teach and mentor many medical students and residents. All of them are intelligent but what separates the ones who will succeed from the ones who won’t is their willingness to learn from their mistakes. 

One of my medical students did not have as prodigious a knowledge base as his peers. When I asked him a question about a particular disease, he fumbled with his answer finally admitting that he didn’t know. Understandably embarrassed, the next day, he returned and presented me with a summary of the disease replete with the latest medical literature references. I was duly impressed! He ended his presentation with the prescient words, “I’ll try harder.” Indeed he did. He eventually was accepted into a prestigious residency program and is now a successful physician. 

Very few of us are able to get everything right the first time we attempt it. For most of us, myself included, it requires many attempts and painful failures before we succeed. The Bible gives us a memorable example of a great Saint who failed many times before he succeeded. 

The Apostle Peter was one of the leaders of the early Christian Church. He was also part of the inner circle of disciples whom Jesus picked. Yet, in spite of these lofty credentials, Peter had many faltering starts. It was his willingness to start over again after so many failures, including denying that he knew Jesus, before he was able to succeed. 

Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and *said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Matthew 14:28-31 (NASB)

Like Peter, we all begin with good intentions but the results may not always be successful. We begin sinking even after a successful beginning. Did Peter give up at this point? No. Did he continue to make mistakes? Absolutely. It culminated on the morning that Jesus was crucified when he denied to dozens of witnesses that he even knew Jesus. If I was Peter and had just betrayed a man I had declared the Son of God, it would have been a fatal blow to my future efforts, but not Peter. After Jesus restored their relationship, he became one of the pillars of the Christian Church. 

In our spiritual lives, like Peter and my medical student, we can try harder, but we are not alone in our efforts. If we confess and repent of our sins and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, He will send God, the Holy Spirit, to indwell within us. He will empower our efforts and allow us to transform and conform ourselves into the image of Jesus Christ. 

We don’t have to try harder. We need to surrender our lives to Jesus Christ. 

Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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