A Life Full of Zeroes




I recorded my score each time until I tired of the activity. Then I continued to participate but stopped recording the results.

What was the point?

Zero plus zero plus zero adds up to a big, fat zero. Whether I added a few or all my attempts, I ended up with the same final result. I hit nothing. I scored nothing.


A group of men spent a Saturday evening shooting trap. I was numbered among them. And I think I was the only one to get shut out.

I felt frustrated.




The more I tried the more I failed, and the further I tumbled into the above emotions.

In reflecting upon the experience, I recognize the obvious faith connection. One definition for sin is missing the mark. That evening I missed the mark. That day I sinned.

But I had every intention of succeeding, of hitting the target, every time I raised the shotgun. I missed and missed and missed and missed and…until I quit.

I liked the men.

I enjoyed the fellowship.

I enjoyed the food.

But I just might not show up again next year.


Because failure isn’t fun. And all the food and fellowship in the world doesn’t rub out the hopeless feeling of unrelenting failure. To experience that in a public setting multiplies the pain exponentially.

No one rubbed it in. If anything, the guys commiserated with me.

Here’s some food for thought.

Let me begin with a quote from Faithful & True by Mark Laaser. “Sin is the lack of a relationship with God and the destructive behaviors that are committed as a result. Sin is unmanageable and causes people to not trust God, to try to control their own lives, and to commit behaviors destructive to themselves and others. Sin causes us to be ashamed. Sin causes us to die.”*

I would add that sin causes us to run away from the ONE.

And to keep running.

Never to return.


We run not because we fear punishment.

We run because we fear unrelenting failure. We fear a life full of zeroes, a life filled with nothing.

And all the food and fellowship in the world doesn’t remove failure’s stain.

Which is why people often run to a bar on Saturday night but not a church on Sunday morning.

Which is why people prefer fishing or football or fantasy to facing the ONE.

Because facing the ONE reminds us that we live a life full of zeroes.

As with my trap shooting score, I don’t need a piece of paper to remind me of my life’s failures. What I need is the hope of hitting the target.

We’ll explore that thought more in the next posting.

*Faithful & True, Dr. Mark Laaser, pages 22-23

Question: How does failure feel to you? Unrelenting?

About tnealtarver

I've traveled and spoken around the world but always love to come home. There I eat exceptional meals, drink coffee to my heart's content, and get loved like nowhere else on earth. I believe a community centered in Christ should be all that and so much more.
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2 Responses to A Life Full of Zeroes

  1. Another take–you didn’t have a total of zero. Food+Friends+Fellowship. Sometimes we don’t look at what we have, rather what we don’t and then feel like failures.

    Of course, that wasn’t your thesis–but food for another column.

    Love your style.

  2. tnealtarver says:

    Thanks, Carol, for the comment. Yes, you’re looking at the glass and saying, “Half full.” And, of course, I’m going to explore this “half empty” (or more like completely empty) line of thinking a bit further in the next post.

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