On Failure

Mistakes are stepping stones to getting it right. I comfort myself in knowing that I haven’t really failed yet , I’ve just discovered many ways that don’t work. The scriptures say that a righteous man falls down seven times, but gets himself back up again.
When my boys were younger, I took 2 of them horseback riding. We were crossing a creek on a mountain trail when one of the boys got bucked off. This was the son that was particularly prone to crying and giving up. He lay on the ground in a crumpled heap, bemoaning his state. Before I knew it I was quoting John Wayne, “get back on that horse.” To his credit, he mastered his fears and carried on.
It’s all part of our life’s education to experience failure, defeat and our own incompetence. Actually, life is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance. If we got it all right the 1st time our pride would be a problem. I think God arranges our failures so that we would recognize our need for him. By his grace we can get up, dust ourselves off and start again.
Without a goal, we are destined to a string of meaningless defeats. We need reasons to continue in this madness of constantly falling down and never getting it right. Most of us do not see the connection between our failures and God’s desire that we would faithfully reflect his image. It’s all part of the process of sanctification. We try, we fail, we try again, we fail again. This time we get fed up with our own wisdom and petition God for His help but on our terms. We try and fail again. Now we’re ready to receive God’s help on His terms.
The most common type of failure is because of our own sin. When we are tempted to sin and have victory over the temptation, we pass the test. When we give in to temptation we get to try again.
I’ve reduced the winning cycle into 4 steps:
1./ Wisdom.
In James chapter 1 it says “for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”
Probably my most consistent life’s prayer has been for God’s wisdom. Having God’s wisdom in any situation, is a ticket to avoid a lot of life’s failures.
2./ Cleaning.
I often think of the passage in Ephesians 4:22 “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires” in terms of taking off the old coat or the old way of doing things. v.23 “and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds”as scrubbing up as you would before going into a hospital ward. V.24 “and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” as putting on the new garment that God provides.
When our minds are renewed by the Holy Spirit, we think more clearly. We make better choices so we don’t get into as many jams.
3./ Vision.
“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” Henry Ford.
Everyone knows that without a clear vision of where we’re going, it’s easier to get tripped up along the way. Just maybe, perhaps, God has an opinion of what our goals should be! A good start might be to find out what’s important to God and make it important to us. Sounds rather simple but I think most people just want God to bless their goals rather than to allow Him to have a hand at setting them.
4./ Surrender.
“OK God, I’m tired of the same old cycle of doing it my way and failing miserably. I give up, it’s your turn to take control. I’m ready to do it your way.

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