I grew up in central Wyoming, but my aunt and uncle lived in downtown Denver. A few times a year we would make the six-hour drive to visit them, and it felt like a real-life story of country mouse goes to visit city mouse.
Three things were always the same on our trips: Dad yelling at us to sit back (no seatbelts in those days), a bag of Twizzlers, and mom pulling out Reader’s Digest, so we could make a competition of “It Pays to Increase Your Word Power.”
She’s a librarian, ya know.
There was a list of words, and with each word came four options of possible definitions. We would all make our guesses, and mom would write them down. Generally there was a lot of trash talk about who was right and who would win. After we went through the words, she would turn the page and tell us the correct definitions and declare the winner. It was always her.
Recently I learned a new word, and it is powerful. Maybe it will help you in the way it has helped me. The word is iteration.
Iteration: The repetition of a process.
Repetition of a mathematical or computational procedure applied to the result of a previous application, typically as a means of obtaining successively closer approximations to the solution of a problem.
A new version of a piece of computer hardware or software.
I heard Michael Hyatt use this word to talk about trying again at something, to constantly improve what you’re doing.
Isn’t this a great word to bring to failure? I don’t know about you, but when I fail at anything I feel absolutely crushed. Failure makes me feel hopeless about myself, like maybe I’ll never get anything right.
But the definition of iteration can give us a better perspective on failure.
It means that, if we can remember the lesson of failure from one situation and apply the wisdom gained from that failure to our next situation, it’s possible to produce a better version of ourselves. Each application of previous wisdom gained can bring us successively closer to acting the way God wants us to act and speaking the way God wants us to speak.
Iteration assumes that something can be improved constantly.
Isn’t this the hope Christ gives us?
I take you to Paul’s words in Philippians 2:12 (NIV):
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence, continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
Continue to iterate your salvation.
We work to obey the Lord, fail, ask forgiveness, and try again, with growing success each time.
Can we hold on to this hope that God gives us room to fail and and to keep working out our salvation?