I remember very vividly when prophetic guy came to our town and said to us: “Make your mistakes now, you might as well”. I was pretty shattered when I failed my driving test, as I was accustomed to passing most things. Since then, I have failed a lot more, and I am certainly less surprised by failing than I used to be. I do still feel that deflation, that disappointment, the let-down. Failures come in bigger and smaller packages. When you are about to step out, and you hold your breath, and every ounce of your being is tensed up and focused on making sure that nothing goes wrong… that all conspires against you and sets you up to worry, to forget God, to fail.
Of course, Jesus’ death on the cross looked like the biggest failure of all. The devil’s trump card. There he was, the supposed future king, bleeding, naked, despised and giving up the ghost. There is something about God’s triumph that rides on the back of human failure and misery. God brings something beautiful out of our weakness: ‘We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that the all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.’
There is something more fearful than failure. Something more ultimately disappointing and devastating. We are told that we will all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, to receive what is due to us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. Suppose we get there, and all we have done is burnt up? We thought we were living for Him. Our lives looked successful even in Christian terms. And there is nothing left, and we are saved, but only as through fire.
It feels pathetic to not rely on our own strength. We FEEL weaker when we witness, when we pray, when we read the Bible, when we testify. When we live out our straggly and diffused little lives blindly calling on the God who we know hung on that cross for us. But, in the middle of bleakness and loneliness and emptiness, we stumble across Him in all the unexpected places. And if God shows up, we know that it was nothing of our making, and all of Him. Make me smaller all the time, Lord. I don’t wanna be a big Christian. I wanna be a channel, a door, a conduit. I don’t want you to feel as if you have to make bargains with me, to negotiate, to fill out paperwork, just to get me do Your will. I’m here. I’m ready.
The UCB Word for Today back last December spoke about failure rates:
Star baseball players only hit the ball about three out of every ten times. How do they live with such a high failure rate? By focusing on the law of averages. They know that if they just keep swinging the bat, they’ll get on base. In 1952 Roger Bannister ran in the Olympics and finished in fourth place, failing to win any kind of medal. But he refused to quit. Up until this time many experts considered it humanly impossible to run the mile in under four minutes. Yet that was Bannister’s goal. And on May 6, 1954, he became the first man to do it. Now runners do it regularly. What’s the point? If you refuse to quit when you fail, you’ll ultimately succeed. You just have to be willing to get back up and keep moving forward. In 1832 Abraham Lincoln was defeated for the State Legislature. In 1833 he failed in business. In 1835 his sweetheart died. In 1836 he had a nervous breakdown. In 1838 he was defeated for Illinois House Speaker. In 1843 he was defeated for nomination to Congress. In 1854 he was defeated for the U.S. Senate. In 1856 he was defeated for nomination for Vice President. In 1858 he was defeated again in a U.S. Senate race. But today he is considered one of America’s greatest presidents. A wise man concluded: ‘It’s a mistake to suppose that people succeed only through success; they often succeed through failures.’ And you’re not defeated until the past takes your focus off the future. So don’t be afraid of failure.
The question is, as Bill Johnson says, that are we living for the generation that we’ll never see? Bobby Conner said that “God has a bigger eraser than you have a pencil.” We will forget all our mistakes when God brings His plan to birth, just like the birth pangs are forgotten with the joy of a new birth. Also, we need to realise that God achieves His goals in His timing, and we just need to seek His presence: “If you have God’s presence, you have favor. One minute of God’s presence can accomplish more than 20 years of your striving.” – Heidi Baker.
The change to live with failure starts here. It starts today, with the next step, and with our next love-breath breathed for our Saviour. Francis Chan says: “As for me, I am tired of talking about what we are going to do. I am sick of talking about helping people, of brainstorming and conferencing about ways we can be radical and make sacrifices. I don’t want to merely talk anymore. Life is too short. I don’t want to speak about Jesus; I want to know Jesus. I want to be Jesus to people. I don’t want to just write about the Holy Spirit; I want to experience His presence in my life in a profound way.”
God is with us wherever He takes us. He is more with us when we go for Him than when we stay for ourselves. Has God moved on, and You stayed put? Have you given in to your soulish and ‘quiet life’ desires and Daddy is saying: ‘No, son, I have not finished with you yet. There was so much we were gonna do together. Come on!’ C.T. Studd has said: ‘Some want to live within the sound of Church or Chapel bell; I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell.’