11 Now it came about in those days, when Moses had grown up, that he went out to his brethren and looked on their hard labors; and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his brethren.

12 So he looked this way and that, and when he saw there was no one around, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.

13 He went out the next day, and behold, two Hebrews were fighting with each other; and he said to the offender, Why are you striking your companion?"

14 But he said, Who made you a prince or a judge over us? Are you intending to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?" Then Moses was afraid and said, Surely the matter has become known."

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Further In: April 2021

What can we learn from our mistakes?

  • March 29, 2021
 

Each month, three staff members dialog about Dr. Stanley’s teachings and how they apply to the Christian life. For this round, Renee Oglesby, Tim Rhodes, and Kayla Yiu chatted in our team Slack channel about Moses’ story, making mistakes, and the role God’s Word plays in our decision-making. This month they responded to the sermon “Staying in Step with God” and the account of Moses in Exodus 2:11-14.

 

 

Aline Mello: Let's start off with your impressions of the sermon and anything that's coming up for you after you watched it. I’m more of a facilitator, so take it away!

Kayla Yiu: My first thought was: Yes, we can know God's wisdom through His Word, but it tends to lack nuance. “Fear not” isn't always helpful.

Renee Oglesby: Sometimes I hear Dr. Stanley say that and think he isn’t reading the same Bible as I am. More often than not, it’s after the fact that I find a verse related to my problems.

Kayla: I see what you mean, Renee.

Renee: Sometimes I have made a mistake, and then I find a principle that relates. As opposed to before.

Tim Rhodes: Same here—I tend to learn a lot through hindsight.

Kayla: For example: After getting married, I feel I understand that Corinthians love passage better. Almost as if experience makes the scripture real and meaningful.

Tim: Yes, I agree. I don't know if this makes sense, but I think a lot of times we have this idea that we'll believe certain things and then act on them. Yet often it's our actions and experiences that then shape and inform our beliefs.

Kayla: That’s what I was thinking. I don't love mistakes I've made in the past, but I'm not sure I regret them, because I've learned so much about God's love as a result of them—how He can work things together for my benefit in spite of it all.

A lot of times we have this idea that we'll believe certain things and then act on them. Yet often it's our actions and experiences that then shape and inform our beliefs.

Tim: Yeah!

Renee: And that’s almost always in hindsight.

Kayla: There's so much mercy and forgiveness in those “mistakes” and “consequences.”

Tim: And often despite my having an array of beliefs, they don't become solidified until I've actually had experience in that area.

Kayla: Very true, Tim.

Renee: When we encounter people in the middle of the storm, I’m not sure the “work together for my good” verse is encouraging.

Kayla: It can be invalidating.

Tim: That is so true.

Renee: It’s almost like, “Set this aside, and read it again after a year.” And then you might have an Ohhhh moment.

Kayla: That's why I think patience is so important. We should sit with our friends and wait for their hindsight moment to come.

Renee: I find it easier to be patient with my friends than with myself.

Kayla: Same here!

 

Renee: It’s easier to extend grace than to receive it.

Aline: So given this hindsight learning, what does that mean for our walk with God? And can Moses’ experience fit into this new structure?

Kayla: I think it proves that God leaves room for us to learn from our mistakes after the fact. He still used Moses despite all of his mistakes. He's more gracious than we think. More gracious than we are with ourselves.

Tim: For sure.

Kayla: We know Moses should have done things differently, but that didn't change God’s plans.

Tim: I appreciate discussing how Moses sometimes acted impulsively and how that gut reaction instead of seeking wisdom can be harmful.

Kayla: Agreed. I'm a big fan of sleeping on decisions.

Tim: I agree! Even though I tend to act very impulsively.

Kayla: But Dr. Stanley would probably want me to pray on them instead.

Aline: That also makes me think of this question, which we can circle back to when we're ready: Sometimes we make a decision with good motivation—Moses was trying to protect an enslaved Hebrew person—but it may not have been the best decision. How do you know when to act and when not to? What role does strategic thinking play in your decision making?

God leaves room for us to learn from our mistakes after the fact. He still used Moses despite all of his mistakes. He's more gracious than we think.

Kayla: Okay, this is an extreme example, but—a stranger knocked on my door two days ago, asking for work because he had no money. I couldn't wait and pray about it in that moment. I gave him a snack because that's all I could think of in that moment. But later I thought of some yard work he could have done. And that was hard for me because I had to be impulsive, but it didn't go as well as it could have. I also could have asked for a cell phone number or something, to follow up later. But I didn’t think about it, and now I can't really help at all.

Renee: You did do something in the moment, though! You acknowledged him as a person and gave what you had.

Kayla: It just somehow never feels like enough, especially when someone is suffering like that. I did get his name. So that's a win.

Renee: That brings to mind people standing with signs by highway exits—and I hardly ever think of what to do in the moment.

Kayla: Oh, it’s so complicated, especially when I drive by them every day. Or am I the one making it complicated? 

Renee: No, it’s definitely complicated.

Kayla: Dr. Stanley would probably say it’s not complicated. “Just serve them.”

Tim: I used to pack snacks in my car to give out, but then I felt really convicted: Why don’t I trust them with actual cash—that's what they really need, right? What am I assuming by giving food?

Renee: Wisdom is hard. Wisdom in the moment is hardest.

Kayla: Exactly. Sometimes I think it’s the believer’s job to trust people when it doesn’t make sense. It's a way to dignify others.

 

Art by Jonathan Todryk