Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
By Chris WittsMonday 20 Apr 2020Morning Devotions with Chris Witts
I wonder if you’ve heard of the inventor George Crum. Now I’m glad I don’t have a surname like that. But he has an intriguing and funny story which is true. He was an American cook and ran a food shop back in the 1800s.
So food was nowhere as sophisticated as it is today. He was a young chef in an upmarket lodge. French-fried potatoes were just coming in and customers loved to eat them. They were a favourite on the menu. As the story goes, one day George Crum became very angry when a customer sent his French-fried potatoes back to the kitchen, complaining that they were cut too thickly. Crum, lost his cool and, being a sarcastic man, reacted by slicing the potatoes as thin as he possibly could, frying them in grease, and sending the crunchy brown chips back out on the guest’s plate that way.
The reaction was unexpected: The guest loved the crisps. In fact, other guests began asking for them as well, and soon Crum’s ‘Saratoga Chips’ became one of the lodge’s most popular treats. In 1860, Crum opened his own restaurant, One of the restaurant’s attractions was that a basket of potato chips was placed on every table.
Crum never patented or attempted to widely distribute his potato chips. Nevertheless, they were soon on their way to becoming an international phenomenon with the help of a number of aspiring snack-food entrepreneurs around the country. Crum closed his restaurant in 1890. He died on July 22, 1914 at the age of 92. His so-called ‘mistake’ brought into existence the potato chips or crisps which many of us enjoy today. Today, retail sales of potato chips top $9 billion per year in the United States alone.
Mistakes Are Opportunities to Learn
Just because you make a mistake doesn’t mean everything will turn out for the worst. You probably know too many people who are afraid of making mistakes because doing so makes them feel horrible about themselves. But the truth is, mistakes can be like gifts. Any successful person can tell you that without the mistakes they made on their journey, they wouldn’t be where they are today.
What about the valuable lessons you learn in life? Author John Powell once wrote this: “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing”. This means we can gain so much knowledge from our mistakes, and all it takes is the willingness to learn from them. We get to know what works and what doesn’t from each error we come across. Without mistakes, we lose countless opportunities to gain valuable knowledge and learn lessons.
“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing” – John Powell
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We also become a stronger person each time we acknowledge our mistakes and move on to do better next time. We come to understand that being brave is all about admitting to our faults and growing from them. Newspaper columnist Alina Tugend has written an interesting book called Better by Mistake. She points out that mistakes should be thought of as something to manage and learn from, rather than something to eliminate. “We should strive to do our best,” she writes, “but if the prize is ever elusive perfection, then the fear of failure will too often overshadow the willingness to experiment, take risks, and challenge ourselves.”
I guess that as a child you were taught, You learn by your mistakes. And yes, that is true. But why, as we become adults, is making a mistake such a terrible thing? We somehow think that if we stuff up, others will think we are stupid—so we try to cover it up or, worse still, blame someone else. We don’t want to be perceived as a failure. Of course some mistakes are more serious than others—a surgeon who leaves a sponge inside his patient’s chest is a huge serious mistake.
God Is In the Restoration Business
People will try to define you by your mistakes, they’ll try to stick labels on you, remind you of all the times you failed, the times you compromised, the times you didn’t measure up—and that hurts, doesn’t it? You may have made mistakes but you have to learn to forgive yourself. Quit beating yourself up over what didn’t work out. Sometimes we can forgive others easier than we can forgive ourselves.
Did you know that God, our Heavenly Father, is in the restoration business? He knows about our mistakes—big and small. It’s through our mistakes that God teaches and transforms us. But this can only happen if we let him. Life takes on a new meaning and purpose when we surrender to God and invite Jesus his Son into our lives. He can deal with our mistakes and bring something worthwhile out of them.
He often does that. God can use your mistake and turn it into something else—because his ways are higher than yours. Don’t be discouraged or afraid of your mistakes. Admit where and when you did wrong and move on, asking for God’s forgiveness and his grace to lead you in the right direction. You will be amazed at what happens next. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. He who follows me shall never walk in darkness”.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT) says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” Remember God knows things that we don’t—and understands things that we don’t. Don’t let past mistakes cripple your emotional well being. To do it on our own without his help is asking for trouble.