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Friday, May 13, 2011

Failing Successfully: Part 4 of 4

Big-Time Failure

The Bible talks about failure a lot.  If not explicitly, it’s there in every story, our Biblical heroes falling on their faces, and their mistakes broadcasted for the rest of history.  The lessons, however, are pretty varied.  Failure is just such a multi-faceted topic.

Take the parable of the Talents.  It’s a story of not trying.  I always feel a secret sense of gall at the unfairness of it when the master takes the talent from the lazy servant and gives it not to the guy with five, but to the guy with ten!  Doesn’t he have enough?  Shouldn’t he be in the mega-tax bracket?  God forgives failure because he expects it, but he gets pretty touchy about the not trying.  Peter, clumsy Peter, who denies and chops ears and tumbles out of boats, is beloved of Jesus.  I think Peter would have invested those talents pretty wildly.

For a very different take on failure, how about the Tower of Babel?  These guys failed, and they failed by God’s hand.  They were trying for the wrong things and God stomped on their party.  And then sometimes God lets the bad guys win, or even helps the bad guys win, at least for a while.  Failure in building a tower to heaven, or in a battle fought in our own power, may result in failure because God is teaching lessons, putting us in our place, and making himself glorious in contrast. 

And sometimes, God is just working in our lives.  The bleeding woman who touched Jesus’ robe?  She’d been to doctors, healers, priests, you name it.  She’d tried for over a decade.  She’d been an outcast for that long.  What God was doing in her life was between her heart and God’s, but apparently it took thirteen years of dramatic failure to bring her to that moment of healing faith in Jesus.

It’s lucky that for every disastrous move I make, or that my kids or husband or friends will make, there is somebody in the Bible, somebody now before the eternal throne of grace, that made that move before me.  And those guys found forgiveness and redemption and wisdom and life in the wake of failure.  If I’m going to fail, and I am, at least I’ve got an excellent Failure Manual in hand.

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