Saturday, 15 March 2008

Failure...Or Is It?

This is part of the series on 'Get Outta Da Boat!' See this post and this one.

Anytime you step out of the boat to attempt to walk on water, there is the very real risk of sinking. And for most of us, there WILL come a time when we will sink; when we get distracted and stop looking at Jesus or when we step out too soon or perhaps even when we stop when we should be walking. And we sink. We, in this sense, fail - we fail to accomplish the task we were sent to do. We fail to get to our goal.

Have you ever failed like this? I think most of us have failed at one point or another. And we hate it, right? We hate the shame and discouragement it brings. We hate that sinking feeling in our stomachs when we realize we failed. We hate the hopelessness that failure often leaves behind. But have you ever thought that failure can be a good thing? That there are positive benefits to failure? Here are a few...

1. Failure is universal - everyone fails. We as humans are not perfect, and we WILL face failure. Look at some of the 'great Bible heroes' - Abraham, David, Elijah, Paul, Peter - all failed at some point in their lives. And so will we - we're not SuperSaints with SuperSuits (mine is at the claeners)! When we accept this fact, it will release us from undue pressure. We don't have to try to be perfect 100% of the time - we CAN'T! So accept it and stand upon God's grace, mercy and love when we do fail.

2. Failure doesn't have to be permanent. Each of us has a choice when fail. We don’t have to let it keep us down forever. Rather, we CAN get up and keep going. Peter did - he didn't let this sinking failure keep him down. He didn't quit being a disciple and go back to fishing, did he? No, he kept going. In fact, he failed again later - he denied Jesus! Did he quit then? No, he got up, and kept going. And became one of the greatest apostles!

Why is it that for some, failure brings despair? While for others, failure drives them on even more? Because they choose to get up and continue walking with God. They don't give up. Why do we admire heroes of the faith like Abraham, David, Paul, Peter? Not because they were perfect, but because after experiencing failure, they got up and kept on going. Prov 24.16 - 'though a righteous man may fall seven times he rises again.'

3. Failure can teach us things that success can't. I think Peter needed to learn about faith and humility as he stepped out of the boat. And the only way that he would really learn it was to sink. This failure probably taught Peter more than if he had walked all the way to Jesus. Imagine if that happened - he would have been so proud of himself! 'Yo, dat's right, dat waz me! I'm da man!' He NEEDED to fail, to sink. Sometimes we do too (I know I do!)- because failure can often be a better teacher than success.

4. Failure is NOT our identity. Or it doesn't have to be. Jesus didn't call Peter a failure, did He? God never calls us a failure. Even though our parents might call us that, or our spouses or our bosses. Or our society might label us failures. Or we might even call ourselves failures.

But our Lord never calls us 'failures'. What does He call us instead - 'more than conquerers' (Rom 8.37); 'friends' (John 15.13-15), beloved, children. See, failing is NOT the same as being a failure - there's a big difference. Even though we fail (some of us more often), we ARE NOT failures. Ps 145.14 - ‘The Lord upholds all who fall, and raises up all who are bowed down.

So take heart, learn from your failures and keep on keeping on. Take the example of Thomas Edison, the inventor of the light bulb. Do you know how many tries he made before he found the right materials and connections for the first working light bulb? Over 10,000 times! What if he had stopped at 9,999 - simply just gave up? We'd be sitting in the dark!

People, don't let failure keep you down - get up, learn, keep going. And rest in God's grace. And remember - failures are also just stepping stones towards victory.


Rose Starr said...

AMEN! What a great message...we all need to be reminded of this :)

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mutating missionary said...

great post...
I am alwasy encouraged by the reality that God will use our failures later in our lives to encourage someone else. Responding to our failures - now that is our test...

onHISturf - dvp said...

yeah, none of us like failure per se, but god does use them for our good and his glory.