Failed, again?

While reading the reports of the arrests of people who illegally entered the nation’s Capitol building I note some are solid citizens who made an awful error in judgment that day. Who knows why otherwise law-abiding people made the choice to rampage through the seat of government?  Their actions will change the rest of their lives;  jobs lost, perhaps prison time, criminal records. I am not justifying what they did in these remarks. But, I hope for restoration. Why? 

Because I understand failure! 35 years ago my life went sideways and I made ignorant and sinful decisions that led to painful personal consequences. As a result, life changed dramatically for me and for my family. In the middle of it all, God kept loving me, the Spirit reminding me that I could conclude that failure was fatal or I could receive the grace of God for a new start.  Yes, my choices had consequences, felt by me to this day, but out of those ashes came a new man.

Gordon MacDonald, an author and pastor, made some sinful choices in mid-life. A nationally known leading Christian, he found himself a pariah, many writing him off from any future in God’s work. He was an example of what is required for restoration. He made no excuses for the choices he had made. He took time to rebuild his life around truly important priorities, retreating from public view for two years. About a decade later, he reflected on that season and how God had changed him. “My touch with failure changed a large part of my perspective as a pastor. It gave me an indelible vision of the host of people who enter the sanctuary every week and are staring failure squarely in the face. When I stand to pray, I see two people a few rows back failing at a marriage. Next to them sits an attorney who faces disbarment. Nearby is a man crippled by an addiction to pornography. To his right, a mother who feels a failure with her kids; to her left, the man who can’t keep a job. …

I would never have seen most of these people … had it not been for my own failure. In short, failure gave me a new set of eyes. There is a stewardship to failure. What we learn and gain in our own dark moments is meant to be shared one day with others who face similar kinds of failures. Some of us would like to bury our failures, forget they ever happened. But that doesn’t seem possible. There are too many fallen people along the way who can profit from what we’ve learned of God.”  (Discipleship Journal : Issue 109)

Let me tell you something you must know – God is a Restorer! He does not write us off.  IF you fail, and the truth is that we all do – somewhere, sometime – there will be many voices that indignantly insist that you’re too damaged to be useful, that God is finished with you, that you should give up and go away. That is not the voice of God! 

When His people failed terribly, they suffered awfully; but He held out this offer which is still good. “Come now, let us argue this out,” says the Lord. “No matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can remove it. I can make you as clean as freshly fallen snow. Even if you are stained as red as crimson, I can make you as white as wool. If you will only obey me and let me help you, then you will have plenty to eat. But if you keep turning away and refusing to listen, you will be destroyed by your enemies. I, the Lord, have spoken!” (Isaiah 1:18-20, NLT)  

In our age there is so much gracelessness, so much judgment. As God’s people I pray our hearts will be filled with tender empathy, that we learn to see beyond the failure, that we will be willing to extend the same grace that we have received from God who loved us ‘while we were still sinners.’ Restoration is not easy! Forgiveness and healing seldom come in a moment’s time. If we will face life honestly, admit to ourselves and to those we have hurt what we have done, humbly asking them to forgive, we can start again. Yes, God forgives us but it is often much tougher to forgive ourselves.

If you’re tempted to try to make a deal with God, reject that impulse. The Lord does not plea bargain. He looks for repentance; “the sacrifice you want is a broken spirit. A broken and repentant heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17, NLT) If your ‘failure’ is not one of sin, but rather finding yourself overwhelmed by your circumstances, there is this in the Word. “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18, NIV)

Here is a word from the Word. Own it for yourself, give it away to those in need of hope. God told His people, and us, this – “Here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to take you out of these countries, gather you from all over, and bring you back to your own land. I’ll pour pure water over you and scrub you clean. I’ll give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you. I’ll remove the stone heart from your body and replace it with a heart that’s God-willed, not self-willed. I’ll put my Spirit in you and make it possible for you to do what I tell you and live by my commands. You’ll once again live in the land I gave your ancestors. You’ll be my people! I’ll be your God!” (Ezekiel 36:24-28, The Message) 

“The danger is not that we should fall . . . but that we could remain on the ground.”  
– John Chrysostom

Holy Water

God I’m on my knees again
God I’m begging please again
I need You
Oh I need You
Walking down these desert roads
Water for my thirsty soul
I need You
Oh I need You

Your forgiveness
Is like sweet sweet honey on my lips
Like the sound of a symphony to my ears
Like holy water (on my skin)

Dead man walking slave to sin
I wanna know about being born again
I need You
Oh God I need You

So take me to the riverside
Take me under baptize
I need You
Oh God I need You oh

I don’t wanna abuse Your grace
God I need it ev’ry day
It’s the only thing that ever really
Makes me wanna change

Yeah it’s like holy water on my skin
Oh it’s like holy water

Andrew Bergthold | Ed Cash | Franni Cash | Martin Cash | Scott Cash

© 2019 Andrew Bergthold Designee (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

Capitol CMG Genesis (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

Capitol CMG Paragon (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

We The Kingdom ASCAP Designee (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

We The Kingdom Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use. All rights reserved. CCLI License # 810055

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