High on a windswept hill stood an old and weathered barn. For most of the year, it sheltered cattle against ice and snow, stored grain and feed, and harbored the old tools required to run a hard-scrabble farm.
But for several glorious weeks each July, the old barn was a place of unparalleled joy for my brothers and me as we reveled in the sweet aromas of new-mown hay piled in the hayloft for winter use. Once my father had carefully searched the haymow for anything dangerous, we would climb the rickety ladder to a high beam, stare down at the mound of luxuriant new hay, and leap off into the softest of landings.
At least my brothers did. They were naturally graceful boys— lithe and well-coordinated—and their soaring swan dives into the timothy and clover seemed works of art. Eager to not be outdone, I leaped from the high beam just as I had seen them do.
Thwack! Through some ungainly twist in my descent, my knees had come in jarring contact with my jaw. I sat in the aromatic hay, rubbing my chin, and brushing away tears of real pain and wounded pride.
This unexpected ending repeated itself each time I leaped, no matter how I adjusted my body, calculated my lean, or extended my arms. Up the ladder, across the beam, gathering myself for the perfect leap—then thwack! More disbelief that I could fail again; more tears to moisten the drying hay.
Each life experience will teach us lessons. Leaping into the haymow taught me persistence. My Yankee ancestors knew the creed: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!” And so I did again, again.
Repeated hard landings and recurring pain are what we humans deeply fear. As individuals and as groups, we wince at what we’re sure will come—the “inevitable” failure; the repeated “No” to our requests; the gathering impression that we seem too weak, too awkward to complete our mission or find true joy. Fear is the aggregate of all our wounds, speaking hoarsely in our ears: “Don’t risk. Content yourself with smaller dreams.”
But to each heart in love with God, there comes a whisper: “Try again. Climb up again. Those who finally soar have fallen many times.” Individuals; prayer groups; entire congregations; evangelistic ministries; indeed, the whole of this global end-time movement must hear the heavenly encouragement that helps us face our fears and summon the success only heaven can guarantee.