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Those of a certain generation remember the TV game show ‘Bullseye!’ where the presenter, Jim Bowen, would tell losing contestants ‘Here’s what you could have won!’ – which always seemed a bitter irony, given that they hadn’t…

Garry’s sermon this morning at Cherry Tree Court looked at Isaiah 48:17-19 where God speaks to His people about the way they should go and warns us that we need to pay attention to what He says. The most effective way to learn is often through an apprenticeship where a young person works alongside a more experienced worker and is taught ‘on the job’, learning from them the tricks of the trade, learning from their mistakes. Although these can be misused and youngsters treated as skivvies, an apprenticeship is actually an ideal model for learning since it gives hands-on training as well as theoretical knowledge. God wishes to teach and direct us, leading us in the right paths, but so often, we choose our own ways (Prov 16:25). When this happens, God confronts us, not to gloat over our mistakes (‘here’s what you could have won!‘) but to restore us to His right paths.

When a builder works, he often has to strip things back to the bare brick, a process which leaves the room looking desolate, but it’s only then that new things can be added. God’s ‘look what you could have done’ is not meant to leave us mired in despair and desolation but is meant to offer us a second chance. When we heed His warnings and follow His directions, the result is a life well lived.