Wednesday, September 30, 2015

FAILURE!

It had been a good day. I'd been diligent. I faithfully did the work I needed to. I even noticed when I was getting distracted at one point and chose to repent and get back to work. Success!

Then it came time to make some support calls. I had a list of names that I'd prayed over and begun calling.

...ring...ring...ring...

...ring...ring...ring...

Ninety minutes later, not a single one of those people had picked up. I could understand a few people not being available. Maybe even most of them. But ALL of them? I stared at my phone pondering what this meant. Was something wrong with my phone? Or the cell network?

Or was there something wrong with me?

That's a perfectly honest question. But before that question had even fully formed in my mind, another thought - no, not a thought, a truth - slammed into my brain with unbelievable force and startling clarity: FAILURE.

In the next minutes I frantically tried to cast that thought - no, truth - aside. I wracked my brain for things I'd done that day that proved that I wasn't a failure. I searched my office walls for evidences of success. I wondered whether a few kind words I'd say earlier that day could somehow count. I envisioned myself on the witness stand and felt compelled to defend myself lest I be rightly condemned and justly sentenced.

Yet no relief came. Try as I might, there was no legitimate way to counter that thought. That truth.

Then it hit me. I was going about this all the wrong way. I was trying to counter truth by calling it a lie. But it wasn't a lie. It was truth, plain and simple. Inasmuch as my objective was to make support calls and raise funds, I had failed. By definition, that makes me a failure.

But here's the funny thing: nothing had changed.

Yes, I AM a failure. I'm nowhere near what I should be. Like a fish in water, so I am in sin. It's around me and inside me. I live and breathe sin; it's all I've ever known. And because sin destroys, even my very best efforts are caked in failure. Sometimes small "successes" shine for a moment, but they are quickly eclipsed by thick layers of failure once again.

So... why was I getting so worked up about being a failure? I was a failure yesterday and I'll be a failure tomorrow. The problem was not that I had been a success before and that it was now in jeopardy. The problem was that at some point that day I had begun to think of myself as more than I am. Success has a strange way of blinding us like that. 

I didn't need to fear becoming a failure; I already was. And I didn't need to fear being sentenced and condemned, either - because Jesus already was.  Two thousand years ago, with full and complete knowledge of who I was and what I would be (a failure), Jesus willingly died on the cross so that I would become something more (a son). So now, until the day when Jesus returns, I will always simultaneously be a failure and a son. And by God's grace, He's okay with that.
"For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. . . . God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." - Romans 5:6,8
So I had failed. I didn't reach a single person that night. But nothing had changed. I was no more and no less a failure than I was in the hours and years before. And I am just as much a son of God then as I am today - and always will be.