For what I want to do I do not do,
but what I hate I do.”The Apostle Paul -Romans 7:15
About a year ago, in the wake of my own failures and in the midst of depression, I received a letter from a young man. I met him in a youth institution, where I served as a volunteer, over 14 years ago. We have remained in contact. He is now 30 years old. I have received several notes and letters from him over the years. In one he wrote: “I never express how much I appreciate you and your friendship. You have never given up on me and you are the one true friend I’ve ever had. I’ve found and I will always remember you for being you. Thank you so very much for always being there by my side and never giving up on me. You have always seen me for who I really am and I’m truly sorry for ever disappointing you…”
In his most recent letter he wrote: “…I’m truly sorry that you are going through the stuff you are going through. I just want you to know that you have always been there for me and you will always be my friend. No matter what happens Mike, you will make it through…you will always have a friend in me…don’t lose faith…you will always have my support.”
Love ya Mike.
Your Friend and brother through CHRIST
I read his letter and immediately had several thoughts and emotions. I was, of course, very thankful for his unwavering love and support, however this thought went through my head: “Mike, you have failed. You have failed him, your family and your God.” The reason is because this young man sent the card from an adult correctional facility. He was back in jail.
If that were the case…God would be a failure.
I remember I went to church soon after reading one of his letters. Pastor Doug’s message was on “Failure”. I am sure this was just coincidental…right? I don’t think so. Through his message I was reminded that failure may simply be opportunity in disguise. I wrote down three main points:
1. Failure happens to all of us… (Proverbs 24:16)
2. God is there in the midst of failure… (Psalm 37:23,24;145:14)
3. God can turn our failures into opportunities. (Romans 8:28)
It also became clear to me that even though we experience failures…we, ourselves, are not failures. To experience a failure is momentary…temporary. To be a “failure” implies permanence and condemnation. We may fail at times, but that does not make us failures.
You and I may be in relationship and fellowship with another person, such as the young man above, with the intent of bringing them health and success; yet when we fail that does not make us failures. If that were the case…God would be a failure.
Take a look at many of the Biblical characters throughout history. These were sons and daughters of God, in relationship and fellowship with Him, yet they failed over and over. Does that make God a failure?
‘”My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”‘
2 Corinthians 12:9
You may be in relationships that are filled with multiple failures. A wayward child; a struggling marriage; a friend who keeps returning to the same destructive addictions, like my friend above…or your own addictions and destructive behavior. I have faced each one of these on a very personal level. Take heart and be encouraged…neither you nor they are alone… neither you nor they are failures. God is with you. Turn to Him, persevere…He can turn that which looks like ashes into great beauty.
Don’t give up on your wayward child…don’t give up on your struggling marriage…don’t give up on your friend…don’t give up on yourself. The answer and the hope, for all of us, lies only in turning away from sin and destructive behaviors and turning to God.
…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles,
and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus,…
May you today, this week…turn to God. May you persevere in the face of your failures and the failures of those in your life. May you be amazed and wonder-filled as He turns ashes into great beauty.
Turning to God and trusting in Him…