Keep Coming Back
The mature Christians I have met along the way are those who have failed and have learned to live gracefully with their failure.
One of my most consistent problems is taking on too much, too many things at once — overcommitment. Perhaps I lack the ability to set proper boundaries, but my response is equally consistent: when I am face to face with Jesus I want to be completely worn out because I did everything I could, every day, for everyone. That’s a bit unhealthy, I get that, but I would rather be stretched and fail than comfortable and content.
We settle in and settle down to lives of comfortable piety and well-fed virtue. We grow complacent and lead practical lives.
Complacency, accepting what has happened cannot be undone, our circumstance cannot be changed–the loss of hope.
The crucifixion on Black Friday, the real Black Friday, left the disciples hopeless. They scattered and immediately went back to their old ways. Their hope was tortured, killed and buried. We have the privilege of hindsight and the Bible to see that this wasn’t the end of the story, but they did not.
As I reflect on Peter, his denial of Christ, the voices that he heard and his incredible failures, I’m amazed by a God who not only reveals this failure in scripture, but comes to Peter and cooks him breakfast then reinstates him as the cornerstone of His church. How ridiculous is that?
What we struggle to see is our own story. We don’t get to skip a chapter and see how it ends. When we meet someone, choose to do something kind (or not), we don’t get to fast forward to see how God will use that encounter to advance His kingdom. We simply have to move on faith, daily taking up the cross. Inch by inch, moving forward, failing and getting back up again (hopefully learning in the process!).
Lord, help us to see failure as Your refining fire. Teach us every time we stumble and give us the faith and courage to keep coming back. Give us the wisdom to listen to your voice and understand what we should do every single day.
From the Chapter
- Authentic disciples have a capacity for faithfulness. Buffeted by the fickle winds of failure, battered by their own unruly emotions…they kept coming back to Jesus.
- At some point in each of our lives, we were deeply touched by a profound encounter with Jesus Christ…yet we did not get unraveled. Slowly we got caught up in the demands of ministry or career and the distractions our busy world offers. We began to treat Jesus like the old friend from Brooklyn whom we dearly loved in years past but have gradually lost track of.
- Inattention to the Holy unravels the fabric of the diving relationship.
- We settle in and settle down to lives of comfortable piety and well-fed virtue. We grow complacent and lead practical lives.
- The sinner is accepted before he pleads for mercy. It is already granted. He need only receive it. Total amnesty. Gratuitous pardon.
- The father of the prodigal son took him back just as he was. Abba just wants us to show up.
- The mature Christians I have met along the way are those who have failed and have learned to live gracefully with their failure.
- Risking everything on Jesus: The ragamuffin gospel says we can’t lose, because we have nothing to lose.
- The willingness to keep growing: Unfaithfulness is a refusal to become, a rejection of grace (grace that is inactive is an illusion).
- The readiness to risk failure: Many of us are haunted by our failures.