Escaping a cycle of mistakes.
I don’t know if you know this, but there is nothing new under the sun. History (and your life to some extent) is nothing more than reruns.
Everyone wants to believe they are unique. Many of us were told when we were little that we were unique little snowflakes and that we were special. We believe that we can strike out on our own path in life to achieve our dreams. We think that if difficulties and temptations come our way, we won’t fall into them like people have in the past because we are different.
I hate to break it to you, but we humans are not very unique. We tend to handle life according to some very predictable patterns. No matter how much feel you believe that you are the exception to the rules of life, but your life is just your version of a story that has been lived out thousands of times before. You might life to think of your life as driving off road, striking that new path, but it’s more like being on train tracks following path MANY others have travelled.
My family has a Roku box which enables us to watch shows over the internet on our TV. About 2 years ago, my oldest son, James, took his fingernail and carved the “ok” button off of the remote. It made the remote nearly useless. So after much frustration of trying to keep using it, we ordered a replacement Roku remote. About a week ago, my youngest son, Jude, took his fingernail and carved the “ok” button off of the replacement remote. Now when James did it I thought, “What a weird thing to do. What could have compelled him to do that?” But when Jude did it I just laughed. I could not believe history repeated itself.
As a pastor, I kind of see the same thing. About once a month, I have someone come to me and will confess a sin or tell of something foolish they have done. They’ll usually share it in such a careful way as if I’m going to just be shocked. But it is extremely rare that someone tells me something that surprises me. I’m starting to feel that I’ve heard it all. Now don’t hear me saying this in a negative tone, necessarily. Because there is a piece of truth here that can really help us if we are aware of it: Humans tend to repeat the same mistakes.
This past Sunday, we looked at a passage from Hebrews 3. Hebrews 3 quotes Psalm 95 which is a warning not to repeat the mistakes of the past. Psalm 95 is the original warning not to repeat the mistake, Hebrews 3 is a reminder of the warning, and my sermon was a reminder of the reminder of the warning. If that was too confusing to follow, just realize that humanity needs to keep being warned to avoid the same mistakes over and over again because we tend to make the same mistakes over and over again.
Humanity has a LONG history of repeating it’s mistakes. You have two options: you can either learn from that history of mistakes or you can become a part of that history. George Santayana was dead on when he said:
“Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
THREE WAYS TO LEARN FROM HISTORY
- Seek advice: Anytime you face a decision that might have major, lasting consequences in your life you need to talk to someone who is both more experienced than you and wiser than you. The reason they are wiser is because they’ve been through more life than you and actually learned from it. If you really want to talk to someone who has seen history repeat itself, talk to a good counselor. They see hundreds of people making the same mistakes all the time.
- Read the Bible: The Bible has a story for just about every possible example of stupidity. Yes it might be 2,000+ years old, but it is still surprisingly relevant to your life and your problems. Not only does it have examples of things gone wrong, but also stories of how people recovered from those mistakes. Most houses have a Bible, there are free online resources and phone apps, and our church gives away Bibles for free so you really have no excuse.
- Pray for Wisdom: James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” God doesn’t want you to wreck your life. God doesn’t take any pleasure in watching humans fall into the same holes over and over again. He wants to help you have a better future because He loves you.
Psalm 95 and Hebrews 3 are just a couple examples of the clear warnings that exist to avoid the common mistakes of humans. The Bible is full of these warnings. You’ll also find these warnings in the voice of your momma, your best friend, and people like me if you’re just willing to listen. Remember you can either learn from history or be a fool who is doomed to repeat it.