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Heard an excellent message this morning from our pastor – “How to deal with Failure”.
I jotted down some thoughts while I was listening:
We have all failed.
We can let that failure make us better – or keep us bitter.
God uses failure in our lives to prepare us for better things.
It can be Fear of Failure that keeps us back and holds us down.
A few days ago my husband and I went to see ‘Secretariat‘. And yes I am actually old enough to remember watching him race in those ‘triple crown’ races in 1972-73. It brought back many memories for me – and was thrilling to hearing the back story. The film also had a common theme today with our pastor’s message. Failure. The owner of that magnificent race horse – had experienced failure and set-backs. She could have given in to defeat and even what she knew about the horse’s genetics – but she refused to give in to either. She knew that horse was a winner and so against all odds – she believed and that belief empowered her. Instead of being afraid – she pushed on – and Secretariat is still known today as the greatest race horse that ever lived – no race horse has come close to beating his record in 37 years.
When I heard the message today – I was reminded of that horse. And of the horse’s owner, Penny. She was completely convinced that her horse was the best – even though the horse had lost a race at first and others told her – to give up. She stared failure in the face and didn’t bat an eye. At a great financial gamble – she believed and made the investors believe too.
How much I would love to be like this. Just because I know something is true – how often do I really believe it and act on it? Stare fear in the face and not bat an eye? Take my power back? Not care about the whispers and humiliation set against me? Push on past my own reputation and pride? Get back up after failing and be changed and transformed through the experience? And most of all – see the blessing in it?
It’s hard. I have failed. I am just now seeing the blessing in that failure. But at the time – I thought it would be what would take me down and steal my joy, my testimony and my walk. And although I am no champion – like Secretariat and numerous others that have had set-back and failures that are far more high-profile than I – I would have to say that it is because of that failure and my response to it – that I am where I am today. I found God’s grace in the midst of pain and hurt. I might never have discovered first hand how much He loves and forgives if it hadn’t been for my failure. I might never have discovered how much my husband really loves and believes in me – or how many true friendships I have – how much they have my back and love me beyond my many mistakes.
The key is our response – not the fear of failure. To fall down and be broken before our God - but then to get back up. To allow that failure to create something gracious inside of us that sees past the shortcomings and failures of other people. To allow grace, mercy, humility and love to be our close friends when dealing with other people. And to release that champion in our hearts that just wants to run – free – just like that race horse.
Here is a beautiful passage of scripture from the Message Bible. When I was listening to my friend lead worship on a youtube video – she quoted a portion of this Psalm and it is so fitting when speaking about failure.
1-3Generous in love—God, give grace! Huge in mercy—wipe out my bad record.
Scrub away my guilt,
soak out my sins in your laundry.
I know how bad I’ve been;
my sins are staring me down.
4-6 You’re the One I’ve violated, and you’ve seen
it all, seen the full extent of my evil.
You have all the facts before you;
whatever you decide about me is fair.
I’ve been out of step with you for a long time,
in the wrong since before I was born.
What you’re after is truth from the inside out.
Enter me, then; conceive a new, true life.
7-15 Soak me in your laundry and I’ll come out clean,
scrub me and I’ll have a snow-white life.
Tune me in to foot-tapping songs,
set these once-broken bones to dancing.
Don’t look too close for blemishes,
give me a clean bill of health.
God, make a fresh start in me,
shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life.
Don’t throw me out with the trash,
or fail to breathe holiness in me.
Bring me back from gray exile,
put a fresh wind in my sails!
Give me a job teaching rebels your ways
so the lost can find their way home.
Commute my death sentence, God, my salvation God,
and I’ll sing anthems to your life-giving ways.
Unbutton my lips, dear God;
I’ll let loose with your praise.
16-17 Going through the motions doesn’t please you,
a flawless performance is nothing to you.
I learned God-worship
when my pride was shattered.
Heart-shattered lives ready for love
don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.
18-19 Make Zion the place you delight in,
repair Jerusalem’s broken-down walls.
Then you’ll get real worship from us,
acts of worship small and large,
Including all the bulls
they can heave onto your altar!
May you find that this new week steeped in ‘chaos’ – is actually a ‘Genesis’ week – a new beginning – rich with possibilities and newness. And no fear of failure.