I recently shared a story from my past with a youth group – one more attempt to pinpoint those critical times when the best life lessons are learned.

It happened one day when I was on horseback to round up a herd of cattle from one pasture to move to another pasture for better grazing. Our ranch has huge tracks of land where the cattle graze, so in order to find all the cows, we each take a horse, spread out to different areas of the pasture and then converge back at the gate to the pasture with all the cows.

That day I was especially tired and truly thought the ride was going to take more energy than I had. After riding for a while, I climbed a hill to survey the area and to make sure I’d found all the cows. In the distance was a grove of trees. I couldn’t see any cows in there but I hollered loudly in that direction to see if any would run out of the trees.  Many times when they hear you making noise the mother cows run out to find their calves. Instead of riding over to check closer, when no cows emerged, I continued on with the cows I had already gathered toward the gate.

We count each cow as she comes through the gate and by the end of the drive; we realized we were missing nine pairs of cows with calves.  It is vital that we have all the cows and their calves with each move, so my dad started listing all the places he thought they might be. One by one, everyone confirmed they’d checked those spots thoroughly. Then he asked about the grove of trees in my area. I confirmed I’d looked “everywhere” but may not have checked the grove like I should.

The next thing I knew, I was headed back on my horse by myself to check that grove of trees while everyone else continued on moving the cows to the new pasture. Sure enough, the nine pairs were there and I now had the more difficult task of moving the nine pairs by myself to the new pasture. If I didn’t have energy to make the ride the first time, you can imagine how tired I was after going back the second time.

So the question that was posed at the time, and many times since is, “Why do we have more time to do it right the second time than we did the first time?” or “Why can we make the time for do-overs, but not make the time to do it right the first time.”

However you want to ask the question, I told the youth, “If you decide to make the right choice now, you won’t have do-overs that require repentance, fixing heartache and prevent future progression.” Do-overs not only waste time, but energy and emotion as well. There’s confidence that comes when you don’t cut corners and skip your responsibilities. But most important is the confidence God has in you and your ability to help him bring others back to the fold when they wander.