Have you ever failed… miserably… publicly… multiple times? If you have, you can identify with the football player depicted in this picture. All we want to do is go hide. Not only that, we tend to beat ourselves up to varying degrees depending on the severity of our failure.
In Superbowl XLI (41), one team was victorious, the other failed. One team celebrated, the other didn’t. One team saw their dreams fulfilled, the other saw their dreams dashed. And it all happened in front of millions of people all over the wolrd.
Thank goodness our failures aren’t quite that public!
I’d like to suggest the failures that haunt us the most are the ones that aren’t so public or well known. There are failures that stick in our minds for years or even decades. They pop into our minds when we lay on our bed at night, when we survey the past events of our life, when we least expect them to rear their head, the flood our mind with vengance. Is there a way to escape the memory of our failures?
Consider Peter. He was THE leader of the Apostles… one of Jesus inner circle of three along with James and John. Peter confessed to Jesus, “You are The Christ, The Son of The Living God.” This is the same man who said, “Even if everyone else abandons you, I NEVER will!”
Just a few hours after this statement, he denied Christ… three times… publicly… calling down curses from heaven (See Matthew 26:34-35, 69-75). It was then the rooster crowed and Peter went out and wept bitterly. Then 50 days later he preached at Pentecost where thousands were saved.
What turned Peter around so dramatically. I think it was two things… Confidence and Affirmation.
The Confidence came from Jesus prior to the denial and is found in Luke 22:31-32, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
Jesus knew Peter would fail, yet he showed Peter he still had confidence in him that after his failure he would return and then strengthen others. Even though failure loomed on Peter’s horizon, Jesus prayed FOR him that his FAITH wouldn’t fail. And indeed that is exactly what transpired. But not before Peter was AFFIRMED.
The Affirmation is found in Mark 16:6-7, “Don’t be alarmed” (The Angel said) “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his discicples and Peter, “He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see Him, just as He told you.”
Even though Peter failed miserably, the angel made sure Peter knew he was still included as one of Jesus’ chosen… he had not be cut off because of his failure. That had to be music to Peter’s ears to hear that, even after failing, he was still part of the family!
Christ has confidence in all His children… including you. He has confidence in you even though He knows you will fail. And even though you fail, he will not abandon you! He will affirm you as one of His own, no matter what you may do… no matter how you may fail. His affirmation is not tied to anything you do or say, don’t do or don’t say. It is based on His love for you.
When we realize we have failed The One who loves us, like Peter, we will weep bitterly in repentance and contrition. We will not feel worthy to be part of the family… but our feelings don’t determine our worthiness NOR does our faithfulness determine our viability to be used by God. Our salvation and usefulness is based solely upon the righteousness of Jesus Christ alone! Nothing else…
Are you worthy in and of yourself to be part of God’s family? No. Your worthiness is based on Christ alone. Can/will God use you even though you have failed? Yes. What determines your worth for The King’s kingdom is His righteousness, not your own.
Rest in the fact that God loves you for one reason… it’s because He loves you! It is HIS promise that is important, not your faithfulness to Him. And that will cause you to WANT to be faithful AND not be destoryed when you fail.