“Harry watched the girl and her mother disappear as the train rounded the corner. Houses flashed past the window. Harry felt a great leap of excitement. He didn’t know what he was going to – but it had to be better than what he was leaving behind”
Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone: JK Rowling
It has been one of those odd weeks, of repeated encouragements, and the same message popping up in unexpected places. At the end of last week, I picked up the first Harry Potter book for the first time in years; I love the collection and JK Rowling was a big part of my love for stories – but I’ve deliberately left the books on my shelf for long enough that it feels as if I’m reading them for the first time again. While there’s a comforting familiarity and fuzziness to the story, Harry feels like an old friend that I’m catching up with after a long while apart.
This is the line that jumped out of me, from the first few chapters of the book: Harry is off on his grand adventures, from the difficult and lonely days of his childhood into the exciting new days at Hogwarts: He didn’t know where he was going to – but it had to be better than what he was leaving behind.
Whenever we dream about the future, or have vision of what things could like, or feel a calling from God, there is always a sense of a need for things to change in order for the new to come into being. Either we need to uproot and move somewhere new, or we need to give something up in order to take on something new, or we need to shift our focus and the things that we allow to take up our time. This kind of shift requires a deliberate and intentional decision that we want to change things from the way they are, to the way they could be; and we need to be willing to do something differently, or to see things in a different light in order to see it come to pass.
And while that kind of shift is exciting, we can be hesitant to take the opportunity: sometimes we are afraid to let go of our present, because we are uncertain of the future. The present is comfortable, and safe, and risk-free: we know what to expect, we know that nothing is moving under our feet and we know that it is a safe place to sit. The present does not call us out into anything new or ask us to take the chances that we have not been brave enough to take before.
But here’s the million dollar question:
What if what is to come is greater than what we are leaving behind?
What if those opportunities that we are afraid to take because they are not as certain as the present hold blessing and fun beyond your imagination? What if you’re really supposed to be doing something that you haven’t even tried your hand at yet, because you’ve been too afraid to have a go in case you fail? What if the things that you think are comfortable and safe now are pale in comparison to the blessings that God has for you?
When something negative happens in our lives, when we mess up or try something that doesn’t work, we are totally involved in it: our spirit, soul and body react and our brain kicks in and tells us not to do it again. These negative experiences reinforce what we can’t do – when we weren’t good enough, when we didn’t match up; so then, the next time the opportunity comes up, our spirit might leap at the idea, but it can be easily talked down by our brain. The times that we have failed can leave us feeling like a failure – and then, because we’re a failure, we don’t try again. When things are coming up that we could have a go at, our brain kicks in and tells us that we’re a failure, and we don’t attempt it, for fear of it going wrong again. Maybe we’ve even been told that we’re a failure – maybe this belief has been reinforced by the things that people have said about us. Maybe, we’ve felt that we’ve had no option but to believe it was true, because there’s been no-one telling us any different. But even if I’m the sole voice in your life telling you this right now, hear this: you are not a failure. Getting things wrong is an unavoidable part of life; but it is not how many times we fall that matters at all, as long as we get up one time more than we have fallen. Strength is found when we get back up, brush ourselves off, spend some time with our heavenly Dad, and give life another shot.
Moments of perceived failure seem like the biggest deal when we are in the moment. But Failure is not your name, and it is not what you need to live under, because you are a child of God. You have the most incredible future ahead of you. You are a child of God, and your Dad is the coolest Dad of all Dads – he’s got your name written on his hand. You are going to live a great life, full of amazing moments that you can’t even imagine yet. Your job is not to be the most amazing, incredible, talented, sparkly person, and get everything right all the time. We can’t get everything right all the time – but we’re not supposed to. We supposed to believe that the things that God says about us are true, and that is what makes us amazing and sparkly in His eyes.
He has a future for you that is greater than you can imagine. Whatever comfort your present holds, the future is full of more hope, more joy, more purpose – when we choose to live it out with the One who made us for life to the full. Leave behind your guilt, your shame, your perceived failure; say thank you for the full life that He has given you, and see what He does.