Finding freedom in the failures
by Christie Browning
"Epic fail." A statement we use in our house to describe when it all just falls apart or doesn't go according to plan. What's your "fail" word or phrase? We all have some way of communicating when we don't get it right -- failure is part of our every day lives.
But what about those failures that come behind a bold step of faith? You know those times when you feel called or moved to act only to fall on your behind? God calls you to lead a class, help a friend, encourage a child, take a promotion.... and you fall, falter or fail at it.
I took a courageous step to speak at a women's event several years ago. It was the first time in a really long time that I was going to speak at such an event. God had brought me through many trials and tough days in the year previous so I was anxious to bring my story and God's message of hope to these ladies. I prepared and planned, but when I got up to speak, I bombed. I literally had an "epic fail." that night. I remember being so humiliated. I was embarrassed and I just wanted the earth to open up and swallow me whole.
That night as I sulked out to my car and drove home, the embarrassment moved into frustration... frustration with God.
"Why did you let this fall apart? Did you call me to this? Why didn't your Spirit empower me to be better?"
"Maybe I am not cut out for this. Maybe I misunderstood what you wanted. Maybe I just stink and will never be good at anything!"
Anybody else relate to this scenario? I hope I'm not alone in this!
Since that night, I've gone on to keep speaking and I wish I could say I never had another bad night or bad event. But... I've shown up to speak when the seats were empty, when the sound didn't work right, when I forgot to bring merchandise for my table... fail after fail after fail.
However, I take heart in this... the success of what I do isn't on me. It's on God. God called me to do what I do and although I want to bring my very best, what "success" might come from that, or what results might be brought out of that is simply on God. He asks me to be obedient, regardless of the outcome, no matter the score. The rest is up to Him.
David knew this well when He wrote in Psalm 57:7 "My heart is confident in you, O God; my heart is confident. No wonder I can sing your praises."
I don't know how much you know about David but he was called to be king and he experienced some "epic fails" as king. In fact, when he wrote that verse, he was hiding in a cave, running from trouble and dodging those who wanted him dead. He was guilty of adultery and then later conspiring to have the husband of the woman he wanted to be killed. He knew failure. But God still chose to use him over and over again. The difference for David was that in his shortcomings, his fear and yes... his failure, his confidence wasn't in what he could do or make happen. No, he knew his confidence was in the True God, the God that wouldn't let him down, the God who couldn't fail, the God who had parted the seas and saved a people time and time again.
When failure tends to overwhelm us and threaten to drag us under into our comfort zones of complacency, it would do us well to stop and check to see what we're banking on. Are we banking on our own abilities? If that's the case, let's just stop now. My track record has shown what I lack when I try to put my confidence in myself. In fact, when I let fear of failure hit me the hardest, its ability to penetrate my heart is because I am looking at what I am able to do. But when I shift my confidence in what God can do.... the courage comes rushing back and I am no longer defined and valued by the "success" that comes from my efforts. There's freedom even when there's failure because that's not my job.... my job is to act, to be obedient, to do what God's called me to do.
God can inject us with bravery whether our lives are just right or if we are still raw from our most recent failure. We can have a heart and mind that is set on Him and secure in what He can do with our humble abilities. All He asks for is a willing heart. Even when our circumstances don't measure up to "success" but equal out to be an "epic fail," God calls us "good and faithful servants" because of our willing and devoted hearts.
Think of the last time something in your life didn't go as planned or you felt you experienced an "epic fail." How did you respond? Were you able to press into God and regain your confidence because of Him? Or did you find yourself struggling in self-defeat? It's OK if you aren't able to claim immediate victory over the feelings of failure, just show God that you are committed to continuing through your journey to grow closer to Him so that your confidence grows in Him. Hebrews 10:35 says, "So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded."