Failure is part of the Journey
At Kemper arena in Kansas City, Terry Holland had his first real shot at the big time. He had drawn the bull Y-93, a great big red bull with large upturned horns. His usual trip was a few jumps out and around the right. The bull had a tendency to pull riders down into the well, inside the spin, which would usually bring the rider into contact with the horns of the bull. This was Terry’s first real big PRCA rodeo and he was looking to win it, but doing so would require him to master Y-93.
A few jumps into the ride, Terry found himself down in the well. His temple made contact with one of the bulls massive horns and he was knocked unconscious. He remembered someone telling him that bulls wont hit a stationary target, that like the T-Rex in Jurassic Park, they wont see something that is stationary. To this advice, Holland says:
It’s amazing how perfectly still you can lie when you’re knocked unconscious. I wasn’t twitching a muscle, yet Y-93 spun around, spotted me, and gathered me up with those big horns of his before the bullfighters could get there. He threw me across Kemper arena. (Terry Holland, What a Ride, 47)
His first big rodeo and this is the experience he had. Later on in his career he would compound fracture his leg, begin the year 2nd and finish just outside of the top 15 (those who would make the finals), break his collar bone, fracture ribs, and be let down many times in the sport of rodeo. But in all these things he said this:
I came to realize there’s a Y-93 in everybody’s life. Sometimes a person draws that bull again and again. He dislocates a collarbone, hits you smack-dab in the middle of the nose, breaks your leg, or takes the little bit of money you have and leaves you empty, devastated, and alone in a San Francisco hotel room. After frustration knocked me to my knees, reality seeped in. Yes, it is happening. And through the muddiness of loss, truth pierced my heart. I love my work and it doesn’t love me back. I need something that loves me whether I’m winning or losing. It dawned on me. I’ve got it. And I’ve had it all along…Starting that day, I took him with me for the rest of y bull riding career and I continue to take him with me each day. Things became different from then on. More importantly, I was different. Even when I failed. (74)
I can’t help but wonder how many men in scripture viewed themselves as failures. Certainly Jeremiah, Elijah, David, Moses, and Peter come to mind. There are probably many more. Failure seemed to be a big part of these men’s lives. Failure not necessarily in their walk with God, although sometimes (think Bathsheba with David, and the campfire with Peter), but failure in the tasks given them on this earth. Jeremiah wasn’t that great of a preacher by worldly standards, no one listened. Elijah spent a lot of time hiding in a cave because people were chasing him. Moses, as far as leading a people, wasn’t very good a keeping them happy. But then again, none of these were the things that these men we asked to do, they were asked to be faithful to God in all that they did.
I can relate to these guys. I have failed at many things. Failure is a common part of life. Many (and i) would point to the last couple years of my life as one repeated failure after another. A meeting with Y-93 that was constant in my life. The sad thing is that I will fail many times more in this life that God has given me. But I know that each of these men grew closer to God after their failure. The refused to let their failure define them. The Bible says:
“You see, at just the right time, when were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners Christ died for us.” (Romans 5.6-8)
While we were failures (failing to live up to God’s standard, called sin), He sent His son to die for us. Our failures are erased, scrubbed out, removed. Failure is not final in God’s eyes. Terry Holland is thankful for that. I am thankful for second, third, and fourth chances. Opportunities to give God the glory, chances to live for Him, and the gift of salvation. Failure is just part of the Journey.