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Just when I thought I’d heard all my preacher-brother’s sermon illustrations, he told a new one in church a couple weeks ago.

“Why do you think God put Philippians 4:13 in the Bible?” Jim asked us. (Being the good congregation that we are, we sat there in silence until he told us.) πŸ™‚

“Because He knew we would need it.”

Then he told this story:

His first summer job as a teenager was working on a farm. He was particularly excited about learning to drive the tractors. Unfortunately, the tractor-driving didn’t go so well those first few weeks.

His first mishap came while disking a cornfield. He nearly got stuck in the muddy middle of that field…directly after his boss told him to be extremely careful in the lower parts of the field. Jim managed to get the tractor out, but left deep ruts behind.

No worries!

*Almost* getting stuck happens to everyone, right? πŸ™‚

A few weeks later he was on his first lap around the hay field with the haybine, riding high in the world and on the tractor.

Until he ran into a tree stump, hiding at the edge of that field. He bent the front bar of the haybine into a lovely V-shape. His employer managed to straighten it *mostly* back into shape.

Surely things had to start getting better from here on out.

But no, that’s not the end of the story.

Just a few days later, Jim was again cutting hay, taking care to mow all the way to the edge of the field, not wanting to waste one bit of that precious feed. Okay, so maybe a little TOO close to the edge….

“Whack!”

A tree branch hit the cab window, cracking it beyond repair. The entire window had to be replaced.

By this time, Jim was pretty discouraged. Was he ever going to get the hang of this tractor-driving thing?

The kind farmer noticed his discouragement, and told him not to worry too much about all the accidents. In fact, he had just the thing to cheer up this downtrodden 15-year-old boy. He passed on a wise saying that his mother used to tell him:

“If you’re not breaking anything, you’re probably not doing anything.”

How true! There is no one—absolutely no one—that succeeds the first time they try something.

Or the second time.

Or the third time.

If they’re not failing at something, they are most likely not doing anything.

It takes many, many tries to get it right.

No matter what area of our lives it’s in—our spiritual lives, our jobs, a new sport or skill—we have to keep at it.

It takes a lot of failing to eventually succeed.

My friend, don’t be discouraged if you are trying and failing at something today. It shows that you’re doing something.

And if you are discouraged, God has just the verse for you. He knew you’d need it. πŸ™‚

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13)Β