James C. Maxwell is quoted as saying: "God uses people who fail - cause there aren't any other kind around." Good to know I am not in this thing alone! When did we start to look at failure as a bad thing, or better yet, when did we start to look at it as defining who or what someone actually is? Simon Peter, one of the twelve disciples Jesus came to call one of his closest companions while on this earth might have just thought of himself as a "failure" on occasion. Why? He did and said dumb stuff! He got himself in messes which Jesus had to bail him out of at times, and at others, he just couldn't "get it right" no matter how hard he thought about it. He slept when he should have been awake, had a hard time grasping what Jesus said at times, acted impulsively, wasn't always "kind" toward others, and even doubts his actions on occasion. Sounds a little like the words of a country song!
Simon’s fishing partners, James and John (two of Zebedee’s sons), along with the rest of the fishermen, see this incredible haul of fish. They’re all stunned, especially Simon. He comes close to Jesus and kneels in front of His knees. Simon: I can’t take this, Lord. I’m a sinful man. You shouldn’t be around the likes of me. Jesus: Don’t be afraid, Simon. From now on, I’ll ask you to bring Me people instead of fish. (Luke 5:8-10 VOICE)
If "failure" becomes the term by which we describe a person, not an action, we have crossed the line. Failure might be the result of a misstep, but at least you took the step. Failure could be the feeling we associate with losing something, but we engaged in something and took the risk. It is pretty hard to walk with Jesus if we never take the first step. It is equally as hard to remain steadfastly in love with Jesus if we never take the time to get to know with him. We might mess up this thing we call our "daily lives" on occasion, but those mess ups don't define us any differently in his eyes. God doesn't give us the label "failure" - we do that to ourselves!
Simon Peter's words are so often what we may think ourselves, or even say right out loud: "You shouldn't be around the likes of me, Jesus." You might be right on that one, but as Jesus put it himself: "People who have their health don't need to see a doctor. Only those who are sick do. I'm not here to call those already in good standing with God; I'm here to call sinners back to him." (Mark 2:17 VOICE) When we sin (fail), we need a loving God reaching out to bring us back into good standing with God. Notice I said "when we sin or fail" - it is a "given" we will take an occasional misstep (even a bunch of them one right after the other at times). Jesus knows the condition of our heart, the weakness of our emotions, and the direction of our will. He isn't labeling us "failure" just because we struggle with those three things! He makes a way for us to continue in our "good standing with God" because of those things!
I want to challenge us a little here. I am going to ask us to change how we use the term "fail" or "failure" in our everyday vernacular. In fact, I am going to ask us to also begin to change the "actions" we associate with failing. Instead of seeing them as "final" or as the thing which "determines" who or what we are, let's begin to see them as he does - missed steps, but steps nonetheless! If you have ever tripped up the stairs, or slid down a couple because your footing was slightly "off" in its landing, you know what it is like to take a "missed step". Truth be told, it was our inattention, or even the fact we were "hurried" in our steps which led to our stumble. We might want to blame the steps for our fall, but they weren't really to blame. Those steps didn't change since the last time we took them, and they will be the same the next time we take them, as well!
Failed steps are steps nonetheless - they don't define who we are as a person. They may not lead to the destination we hoped they would - like when you find yourself having to go all the way to the bottom of a stairwell full of steps when you step into it because the door locks behind you when you enter it. They may not make passage easy because of what we take with us along that passage - like when you have to go up several flights with arms full in order to reach your next destination. Sometimes we don't think things through. Sometimes we try to do things under our own power. Either way, we don't allow those steps to define who or what we are. We realize the value of those steps, even if the value isn't apparent at first glance! If we go through a locked door and find ourselves "trapped" in the cycle of "steps" we are taking, we aren't locked there forever - there is an exit! If we try to navigate life with burdens too heavy for us to carry, we aren't working "wisely", but that doesn't define us as a fool!
Don't allow missed steps to define you. Use them to draw you into a new path with a greater focus. We don't need to embrace the failure as our destination - we should allow the missed steps to become the pathway to our next destination! Just sayin!