John Maxwell has a neat book entitled “Failing Forward.” The Subtitle is “Turning Mistakes Into Stepping Stones for Success.” The thesis is that we all fail. But some fail backward. And others fail forward. Successful people respond positively to their failures. They learn. Grow. And achieve.
The title reminds me I have failed many times. More than I care to count. As a kid, there were times I failed my parents. As a teenager, I failed my drivers test the first time. As a basketball player, there were times I failed my teammates. As a college student, I failed a science class and had to repeat it.
If I’m honest, I know there have been occasions I’ve failed as a husband. A father. A preacher. A friend. But most of all I know that I’ve failed the Lord. More than once.
Failure. The word just hangs in the air. It has an ominous sound. It hurts. It stings. It depresses.
But I’m also reminded that my failures do not have to be fatal. I’m not finished. I’m not done. I can move forward.
Think I’m whistling in the dark? Well, I have evidence to prove it.
I recall a day of utter failure. It was Friday. Almost 2000 years ago. It was a Friday of failure. The betraying Judas failed. The denying Peter failed. The cowardly Pilate failed. The hypocritical Sanhedrin failed. The unbelieving Jews failed. The fleeing disciples failed.
And it appeared that Jesus failed. It seemed the mission was thwarted. His ministry aborted. The hope of Israel? Dead. The Kingdom of Heaven? Defeated. God’s plan? Failed. Yes, it seemed that way. By all human experience and observation. Until…….Sunday.
On Sunday everything changed. The hope of Israel? Alive. The Kingdom? Coming soon. God’s plan? Moving forward. What appeared to be divine failure really wasn’t. It was divine purpose. Divine Providence. Divine power.
But what about human failure? Could they possibly move forward? Peter was restored. The disciples were forgiven. And grace and mercy were offered to all who would receive it. Fifty days later many of the same Jews who cried, “Crucify Him,” pled for pardon. The unbelievers became believers. The bloodthirsty murderers were cleansed by that blood. Their failure was not fatal. They now moved forward with a focused faith.
Except for Judas. He chose a different path. Unlike Peter whose failure turned from remorse to repentance. Judas’ failure finished him. Literally. It was final. Fatal.
What about you? Are you carrying the burden of Friday’s failures? Is your past holding you back? Are you living in regret? Fear? Isolation?
I know. You feel your failures are worse than others. I’ve seen it. And heard it. Unfaithfulness. Drunkenness. Immorality. Homosexuality. Abortion. Abuse. People who’ve given up on themselves. Quit. Surrendered. Said, “it’s too late.”
Listen! It’s never too late. Just because you’ve failed, doesn’t mean you have to be a failure. James Long put it this way, “One reason God created time was so that there would be a place to bury the failures of the past.” God hasn’t given up on us. Forgiveness is freely offered. His grace is great. And His mercy is magnificent. His love unconditional. And His blood’s a cleansing stream.
You can clear your conscience. Ease your mind. Heal your heart. You can find peace. And pardon. And purpose. You can come back. And begin again. And move forward. Just bring your failures to the cross.
Yes, it may be Friday. But Sunday’s coming!
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman