Finding Purpose Following Failure

Last week we wrote about the extraordinary demonstration of compassion and forgiveness by Brandt Jean to Amber Guyger, the woman who shot and killed his brother, Botham Jean.

Now we learn that the Judge presiding over the case, Tammy Kemp, has been accused of “an abuse of her power.”

What awful act did Judge Kemp commit?

She gave Amber Guyger a Bible.

So, the nation’s largest atheist legal organization, The Freedom From Religion Foundation, has filed a formal complaint against Judge Kemp for what they’re calling an act of “inappropriately proselytizing.”

Here’s what happened.

After the trial ended and the jury had been dismissed, Judge Kemp offered her condolences to the Jean family. Then she stopped by the defense table to offer a word of encouragement to Amber Guyger.

She told Guyger that “Brandt Jean has forgiven you. Now please forgive yourself so that you can live a productive life when you get out of prison.”

“She asked me if I thought her life could have purpose,” Judge Kemp recalled.

Kempt replied, “I know that it can.”

She said, ‘I don’t know where to start, I don’t have a Bible.’”

Judge Kemp said she thought of the Bible in her chambers. “I said, ‘Well, hold on, I’ll get you a Bible.’”

She came back out and, together, they read John 3:16.

Guyger then caught the judge off guard when she asked for a hug. After briefly hesitating, Kemp hugged Guyger and further encouraged her.

For this the Judge is being criticized. “It’s way out of bounds,” said Andrew L. Seidel, a lawyer with the FFRF. Actually, it sounds like we need more judges like Tammy Kemp.

Amber Guyger’s question to Judge Kemp is worth pondering, “Can my life have purpose” after being convicted of murder? After serving time in prison? After a failure that took the life of an innocent man?

I don’t know what will happen to Guyger, but she has been exposed to a message of faith that can reshape her life and furnish hope for her future.

I do know this. God can use failures to accomplish His purpose. All of God’s great men and women made mistakes. Fell short of the mark. And at some point failed.

Abraham lied. Jacob deceived. Moses murdered. Samson had a weakness for women. Eli was a poor parent. David committed adultery. Peter denied Jesus. Thomas doubted. And Saul was a persecutor of Christians before he was converted and became the apostle Paul.

All of these failed. But they had one thing in common. They never quit. They corrected their mistakes. Maintained their faith in God. And kept their spiritual focus.

I also know that all of us have failed at times. Maybe not as egregiously as Guyger by committing murder. But “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23).

In Christ, however, we can find forgiveness. Learn God’s will for our lives. Discover our purpose. And reform the direction of our lives.

The Bible is clear about God’s purpose for us. The apostle Paul affirms that He has “predestinated us according to His purpose.” It is an eternal purpose. His purpose for us is in Christ. And that purpose issues itself in a new life (Eph 1:11; 2:10; 3:10-11). When we come to understand that life is not all about us, but all about Him, we can see more clearly His purpose and be empowered by it.

When we accept and embrace God’s purpose for our lives we discover true meaning. We find significance. We can overcome past failures. And not only forgive ourselves but make a difference in the lives of others.

What Brandt Jean and Judge Kemp offered Amber Guyer ought to be celebrated. And modeled. It can significantly alter the direction of her broken life.

Oliver Wendell Holmes expressed it this way, “The great thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving.”

What about you? Where are you headed? What is your purpose? And will you allow God to aid you in overcoming your failures?

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman


Filed under Purpose

2 responses to “Finding Purpose Following Failure

  1. Imagine a woman who discovers she is pregnant with a redeemed humanity. Her husband is not the father of her unborn child and he would rather put an end to their relationship than accept responsibility for this child. A family with the name of Stephen ends. The Woman takes the name Saul because it is the name of her Mother’s husband.

    She chases after Jesus the Rabboni…supposing him to be a prophet and the Gardener/Father of her soon to be born redeemed humanity. She has spent time with him under the cover of darkness. However, he sets her straight, he’s not Christ the Father. He tells her not to touch him (John 20:17) and sends her off in search of the man who is her ROCK and will redeem her and claim her as his cherished bride according to the prophecy.

    Along the way she meets up with other people who remind her of Isaiah 9:6. Instantly her eyes are open. The Truth is clearer. Of course, Jesus the Rabboni is not the Christ the Everlasting Father…he is Jesus the Son of David, the Prince of Peace.

    Once she and her “Cephas” redeem each other…are married and start travelling together, their life unfolds according to God’s plan. People they meet along the way…see them as gods who have humbled themselves and taken human form. They call her Paul and Hermes because she speaks, reasons and teaches with the authority of a male. They call her travelling companion Cephas, Zeus because they see him as her husband and the Father of the Jesus family. People at Ephesus are offended. They see Paul as Apollos’ twin sister Artemis and do not want to see Artemis depicted as a male. They push Alexander forward to defend Paul’s teaching…He fails. He motions for silence…and the crowd shouts in unison. Great is Artemis for two hours (Acts 19:34).

    Sometimes a failure and an act of civil disobedience can bring victory to people! Thank you Ken for your faith and this post! Thank you for lifting up the example of the Judge accused of abusing her civil authority to give the Woman guilty of murder a hug and a bible.


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