This past week I was reading an article about some famous people who failed at their first attempt(s) at business, art, ministry etc… but then found success later in the same field. Sometimes I look at successful people and think, “Yea, if I had their abilities, I’d be a great author (or speaker), too…” Have you ever done that? Have you ever thought, “If I had that person’s talent I could [insert dream here] too!” Behind almost all those great stories, though, is a person who struggled to get it right early on. Jim Lee is one of those stories.
You may not know Jim’s name, but you know his work. The modern day batman receives his good looks (at least in costume!) from the work of Jim Lee. He is one of the great artists for DC Comics and has received numerous, and prestigious, accolades for his work with comics and graphic novels. In 2010, he was designated as one of the artists in charge of giving Batman (and Superman, and others) a new-look costume, undoubtedly because of the wave of fans that love seeing their super heroes on the big screen.
Yet Mr. Lee didn’t start at the top. In fact, when he first submitted his work for review with Marvel comics (owners of Spider Man, Captain America etc…) he was turned down. His rejection letter stated that he needed to work on strengthening his drawings and learning in particular, how to draw hands. Based on Jim's amazing career, he must have figured it out!
Have you ever thought about how people might evaluate Jesus’ career? No, Jesus never sinned, but if we looked at His body of work we might wonder about how much “success” He had! Honestly, the 12 disciples were less than stellar and one of them betrayed Jesus to His death. The “leader” of this group denied that he even knew Jesus, once cursing profusely in front of a young girl who asked him a simple question! He brought in a crooked tax collector known for stealing, He couldn’t even win over the religious leaders of the day and Jesus had a pretty bad reputation with the dinner company He kept. In fact, most of the followers who liked Him early on were shouting “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” at the end of His life.
The Bible makes it clear that Jesus never sinned. But do you wonder if Jesus ever smacked His head with His hand and thought, “What is wrong with these guys I’ve chosen?” Or if He ever asked Himself, “How on earth are these people going to survive when I’m gone?!?”
Of course, the end of the story looks much better than the beginning. Jesus’ disciples stood strong after His resurrection. His chosen leader started a history-changing revolution called “the church” and at his first sermon, 3,000 people chose to follow the life and teachings and Gospel of Jesus. And when we get to the very end of God’s great book, Jesus is coming back as a king and everyone will proclaim, “He is King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.”
Do you ever feel like things aren’t quite working out for you? Ever feel like the rejections are too much, the mistakes are too many and the opportunities for success are passing you by?
The Overboard Life isn’t lived in individual moments. No, the Overboard Life is lived out in every moment, of every day. That means that successes and failures must be understood in the big picture of the work God is doing in and through us as we keep stepping Overboard for Him. I can’t let one (or two…or three…or ten…or one hundred!) set back(s) convince me to return to the comfort of the boat. I cannot allow the lies of the enemy to trick me into believing that the perceived safety of the boat will make a better life than the faith it requires to walk on water with Jesus.
I will make mistakes. Plans won’t come together as perfectly as I think they should. Hardships will come up. Loss will be experienced. Through it all I have two choices: I can keep pressing on in faith that God’s plan is bigger than I can see, or I can shrink back to the boat in fear, living under the burden of perceived failure. Every single failure, letdown, setback, loss and obstacle gives me the same two choices: Give up, or press on.
Well, since both Jesus and Batman had their struggles, I think I’m going to press on. And while Batman is busy saving Gotham, Jesus is busy helping His followers through every setback they experience (Hebrews 4:14-16). With His help, the end of my story will turn out amazing.
Don’t give up when life gets hard. Remember, there is one who is always on your side, one who experienced some pretty difficult things Himself but managed to face them without sinning once. Because of that, He can help you overcome hardship like no one else, and He can help you put failure in perspective.
Go ahead and take the plunge, life is always better on the water!