Sometimes we do things we hate; things we’ve fought against our whole lives; even things that disgust us. Sometimes our emotions take over and we lose control of ourselves. Sometimes we ignore our conscience and do whatever we want. Sometimes we just plain fail.
Failure is not well respected in our culture. In fact, it’s one of the worst things you can call someone. Don’t marry that guy, he’s a failure. As a mom, she’s a failure. His business failed. Their marriage failed. Her diet failed. My children are fond of the term “epic fail” to describe not only things, but also people. It’s one of the highest insults in their vocabulary.
But failure is part of being a human, even for followers of Jesus. It seems that many Christians believe they should not fail in their walk with God. They act surprised when they sin, as if they aren’t human or something. I don’t care how long you’ve been a Jesus follower, you don’t have it all figured out. You will fail, and sometimes you will fail big.
I suggest that failure isn’t only unavoidable in my walk with God, it is indispensible, for it is through my failure that I see both myself and God most clearly. If I am paying attention, my failure gives me a good read on myself telling me where I am in my maturity. My experience is that most people think they are farther along than they really are. But failing identifies my weaknesses providing a real threshold to measure the transformation I’ve undergone. Failure keeps me humble and grounded to reality, as well as forces me to evaluate myself soberly.
It is only through failure that I experience God’s grace. When I make of mess of things and God loves me anyway, I experience forgiveness and grace anew. As I confess and turn away from my sin I draw closer to God. My failure gives me the context I need to understand God’s vast greatness and loving nature. My failure is an opportunity to love God more through experiencing more of his grace.
Make no mistake; I’m not rooting for you to fail. There is nothing I want more than for your continued success as a follower of Jesus. But when you fail it is important that you don’t beat yourself up about it. The Liar will tell you that you are worthless and unworthy of being God’s person at every failure, beating you with guilt and shame.
I’m simply suggesting that you accept failure is part of the process of becoming a holy person. Seek God’s heart. Confess your sin. Turn away from sin. Be humbled by your weakness. And ask God to reveal to you what you need to know about your failure. Ask God to show you what your failure means. Ask him to show you how he feels about you after your failure. And live in his very abundant grace!