Nowhere to Go but Up

by Jan Silvious

The story is told of a woman who enrolled in a basic acting class during her first term at UCLA:

For her first assignment, she performed a monologue from The Madwoman of Chaillot, playing the lead part, the maid. Although she memorized and crammed like crazy, she was nervous, especially after she saw her classmates perform so well.

"It was my turn. I was the only one left. I didn't feel so okay anymore. The stage in the tiny classroom was about six inches high, and I tripped stepping up on it. I turned around and introduced my presentation. I got it out, and I was word-perfect. My homework had paid off in that respect, and I had added a personal touch to the character of the little maid by making small circles in the air with a clenched fist, so it would look as if she were dusting something. I returned to my seat, with my heart in my ears, thankful to God it was all over. I don't recall any clapping.

But it wasn't all over. Now came the critiques. She skinned me alive. She wound up giving me a D-minus. She explained to the class, I'm giving [this student] a D-minus, because she at least had the piece memorized. However, it was an F performance.' She dismissed us with: Nowchoose new partners for your next scenes.' Everyone left but me. I felt as empty as the classroom. I could quit or stay. It was my choice. I decided to stay. I had nowhere to go but up."1

The student was Carol Burnett, who went on to become one of television's most beloved actresses and  comedians. She used that embarrassing failure as a launching pad for future success.

Some of our biblical forebears knew how it felt to fail.

David, of course, failed miserably in his affair with Bathsheba. Maybe even worse than his adultery and murder of Uriah was his lack of conscience about his sin-until the prophet Nathan confronted him: "Thou art the man." But David's contrition was genuine, and he went on to lead the nation of Israel to great heights.

Peter was another who dropped the ball at a crucial moment. Fearing for his life after Jesus' arrest, he flatly denied ever having known Him, when questioned in the courtyard. It. was Jesus' gentle rebuke that galvanized him into repentance and subsequent action, as one of the most loyal of the Master's followers.

Giving up after failure is an option that seems to lurk in the shadows. But David and Peter didn't quit after their failures. And Jesus never gives up on us. Though we may and do fail, His love is unfailing and His mercies extend to all generations.

When there is nowhere to go but up, try prayer. Ask the Lord to convict you of any hindering sin, then confess and find the release of His forgiveness. Such grace is a motivating force to propel you on to achieve all that the Lord has ordained for you.

1. Carol Burnett, One More Time, Random House, 1986, p. 186.

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