“The Way is Shut”


“Living is strife and torment, disappointment and love and sacrifice, golden sunsets and black storms. I said that some time ago, and today I do not think I would add one word.” Sir Laurence Olivier (English Actor, Producer and Film Director, 1907-1989)

What do we do when the road reaches a dead end? Where do we turn? How do we go on when disappointment after disappointment overshadows all our brightest hopes and dreams?

It can be so tempting to give up when we look failure in the face and see its empty eyes staring blankly. Sometimes we will fail, and that is the simple truth of it. Failure is as blind as justice, and just as impartial. Just as natural disasters strike people of all kinds and characters, failure, too, sits in all our paths eventually. Then our dreams seem so foolish. The pessimists seem to rule the day. Our hopes evaporate into the blank, still air. There we are, fallen on the pavement with our skinned hands and knees, bleeding, hurt, humiliated, and confused. What went wrong? How did this happen? Why can’t I win??

It is never a pleasant posture to be in when we find ourselves on our faces in the dirt, instead of soaring through the air like Icarus and Daedalus. Although, if you remember correctly, they had their own disappointments. They also found their faces in the dirt.

“Ones best success comes after their greatest disappointments.” Henry Ward Beecher (Liberal US Congregational minister, 1813-1887)

Sometimes, perhaps, it takes a failure to point us in the right direction. Every great inventor and innovator has dealt with numerous failures on the way to ultimate success. Maybe one reason for this is that every discovery lies somewhere outside the realm of the known. The direction is vague, if we have a direction at all. Sometimes, all we have is a fuzzy sense that there must be a better way, or better idea, or better life. When we fail, we are made aware of our limitations. If we know the problems, we can work to fix them, after all.

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” Martin Luther King, Jr. (American Baptist Minister and Civil-Rights Leader. 1929-1968)

Many, if not all, of our world’s greatest and most inspiring figures have faced crippling failure and humiliating defeats on the way to ultimate victory. If we are able to look past the gravel embedded in our scraped hands and knees, we will see the powerful truth behind every failure we encounter. Failure should not send us running for cover. Every failure is a lesson. Experience may be a hard teacher, but it DOES teach us many things. Time spent on the ground can help us to clarify, for ourselves, if this goal is worth the fight. Every time we stand back up again, we grow stronger. Every time we stand back up again, we demonstrate our faith and perseverance. Some things, are simply worth the work.  

So, remember the next time you find yourself choking on dust and picking rocks out of your wounded pride, remember that this fight is not over yet! You are still here! You may not be standing yet, but you will stand at the last, no matter what.

 It is God who arms me with strength
    and keeps my way secure.
 He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
    he causes me to stand on the heights.
 He trains my hands for battle;
    my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
 You make your saving help my shield,
    and your right hand sustains me;
    your help has made me great.
 You provide a broad path for my feet,
    so that my ankles do not give way. Psalm 18 : 32-36


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