Failure is a common part of life, but the fear of failure is something that grows with us as we live. A child is not afraid to draw outside the lines or concerned with living up to the constraints imposed by the project, so why does that change as we become adults? Maybe it’s because a child does not “fail” if he draws outside the lines. The point of drawing when you’re young is not to practice technique in the light of “standards”, but to explore and understand the world around you. But why should that change when were older?
Not to explore or try is the only way to truly fail.
As we get older, life starts judging us by how well we stay inside the lines, and we begin to worry about performing well inside the boxes of life. We start to look at balancing “risk” and weighing the cost of failure. We start trying to live in the “safe” zones of worry and fear.
What would you do if you knew you would not fail? Would you cure cancer? Would you become a billionaire and fund the guys who cure cancer? Would you bring peace to all the earth and hope to every nation? Would you be the best snowboarder, skier, or race car driver ever? The possibilities are nearly endless. Not only in the large things but in the small ones as well. You could succeed in having world peace or having the highest score on PAC-MAN. Nothing is too great or small if success is always guaranteed.
But let’s make this question slightly more complex. What if you had guaranteed success but only after a set number of failures? You might try ten times to beat the high score on PAC-MAN, but would you try 10,000? Even if you had guaranteed success on that 10,000th attempt, there are some things that just aren’t worth our time. Because when success is guaranteed, time becomes our greatest constraint. Dracula has the time to build a castle and learn to play a mean organ, but we don’t have enough time to be bad at something that doesn’t matter. (Not hating on you organ players out there, it’s just an example. 😉 ) At a rate of one failure a day, it would take you almost 30 years to go through 10,000 failed attempts. So unless you’re a mad PAC-MAN fan, the list of what we should work to achieve narrows down to those things that will make the most difference in the world — the things that have the most value.
Finally, what would you try to complete if you were guaranteed success after an infinite number of tries? Tricky question, right? Theoretically, something of infinite value might be worth an infinite number of attempts to achieve, but that’s something out of reach for a finite person. The thing most worth having would be out of our reach in this scenario. But what if instead of trying to achieve something of infinite worth, what if something of infinite worth was given to you? If we possessed something of infinite worth, then all the other things in life would become of lesser value (and, in a sense, equal in value).
Think of it like this: if you put a pin in Texas and a pin in New York the distance between the two is comparatively large compared to the distance from your favorite local taco shop. But if you regularly travel to Planet 9, then the distance between Texas and New York is nearly indistinguishable. In the same way, an infinite distance (mathematically speaking) puts Texas and New York in the same place. So then being a billionaire or holding the high score in PAC-MAN have the same infinitely small value when compared to something of infinite worth.
Now we have a problem though, if everything is equal in value when we compare it to infinity, good and bad become “equal”. But we know that doing good and doing bad are not the same, so we need a new measurement of value. We need a new form of measurement, a “vector”, or a direction of the item to the thing of infinite worth. Items that “align” themselves best with the item of infinite value are more valuable than items that are a further offset of that item.
If we place an infinite worth on money, then all things that align with the goal of making money are worth doing. Things that make more money are better aligned with the direction of “money” than things that make less money. However, money should not be given infinite worth because it is finite by nature. Failure and time are very much a part of the value placed on money. If time and failure are concerns, the object is not truly infinite. When we think of things not bound by failure or time, the only items that come to mind are those of belief, religion, and relationship — and of those, there is one that seems to stand out from the rest: and that is love.
Christianity starts with the fall of mankind, a breaking of fellowship with God and with perfection. Then, what is now finite and imperfect is left with no recourse by which to align itself with the infinite nature of God. We are left measuring values on the far end of infinity, measuring this by money and that by glory and another by how well we stayed within the lines. All things are measured by failure and success in an existence that is itself doomed to failure and, ultimately, death. But our Creator, the infinite God, moved infinity towards the finite for the sake of His love for us.
The infinity of God came down and lived finitely with us. His name was Jesus. And unlike us, He was not corrupted by the fall that separated us from the infinite but instead He overcame it on our behalf. He took the death of our finite existence caused by sin. Then, just as what is finite cannot swallow what is infinite, death could not hold the Giver of life. Jesus rose from the dead, and in His resurrection, He offered a way for anyone who would believe to become aligned with the infinity of God. This is the gift of infinite worth — giving more purpose to life than a paycheck, car, money, fame, or any earthly glory. For all things can now be measured by how well they align with the direction of God — His goodness, glory, and grace. Salvation from Christ is of infinite value and it is a gift to you if you believe in the name of Jesus who is the Christ.
So with all that, we find that fear disappears in the light of God’s eternal gift. We can once again, like a child, move free from the fear of failure as we explore the different directions and paths that align with Who God is.