When we fail at something we’re good at
Have you ever blundered or failed? Fallen flat on your face? Performed at your lowest capacity but striving to do your best? At something you’re normally good at? In front of those expecting something great from you?
No, just me? Some of you? All of you?
It sucks doesn’t it? Because, not only do you get to replay the epic stink fest in your head over and over again, you get to feel the shame and embarrassment of being a total bomb.
Man, these are the hard days friends. Those days you have to decide to keep going any way. Those days you talk yourself off the cliff of quitting and back down to the world you’re called to influence.
Those manure filled failures are filled with some pretty rich nutrients, if we can get past our gag reflex.
But the alternative to not filtering out the good, is a chest full of anxiety and a neck full of stress. Am I preaching to anyone right now or is it still just me?
I know these are hard mountains to climb. The mountain of starting over. The alps of failed attempts. The summit of embarrassment. Plummeted to the valley of despair. The meadow of humiliation. The plains of pain. To much? Just trying to nail down the misery of failing at something you’re called to do, normally good at and love with a passion.
I wonder if this is how Joshua felt with his first big loss after all those wins. And the sin that caused the loss wasn’t even his own sin it was another’s.
Maybe it’s how Abraham felt when him and Lot had to go their separate ways. Lot brought trouble and Abraham brought Lot. Soooo who’s fault was it really?
But perhaps the one who really struggled with this feeling that they bombed, was John the baptist. Full of fire. Invincible when addressing royal sin and bonus: he was the cousin and baptizer of the Son of God. Now here he was, sitting in a jail cell second guessing all his life’s choices. It looked like he utterly missed it.
The All Powerful One that he put his stock in, allowed his arrest, after he prepared the way for him. Poor John ate bugs and wore camel hair. He boldly declared who Jesus was “Behold the Son of God. I’m not worthy to even wear his sandals”
And now, here John sat, listening to the sharpening of swords. Hearing the singing and dancing of his enemy laughing at his downfall.
In a worlds view he bit the dust. His lucky streak was over. His time of favor came to an end. He hit a zonko. But did it?
John, in his gutted, defeated state needed to know: was my life a waste? Did I miss it? Was I fool in the eyes of man and God. For Nothing?
But before he lost his head, Jesus comforted his heart and set his thoughts straight. Luke 7:22-28 tells the story of John sending his disciples to Jesus to ask, “ are you the one or should we keep looking for the Messiah?” A man who declared with confidence on a hillside, sat in confusion in a jail cell. This moment right here, is the one I can relate with. That second guessing of ones self. That, “did I miss it? Am I spinning my wheels and wasting my life. Is there more?”
And the answer comes, not with a pep talk or even a visit from Jesus, just a message to relay. This would be a good time for flowers, a card saying “sorry to hear about your coming execution” a Text with a sad face, or at least your favorite last meal of fried chicken and waffles. But Jesus sends these guys back, with a “Hey tell John”
“Then he told John’s disciples, “Go back to John and tell him what you have seen and heard—the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.” And he added, “God blesses those who do not fall away because of me.” Luke 7:22-23 NLT
Sitting as a prisoner in a jail cell or standing free on a hillside, the fruit of what John preached is still the same; The Son of God was here! Looking like a success or not, John pointed to truth- The blind did see, the lame were walking , leprosy, poof, gone. Deaf ears open. The dead alive again. And then, Jesus says, don’t give up John blessing await. Don’t lose heart now, you have no idea what’s on the other side.
I write this in the early hours in my own little jail cell. Wondering, “am I making a difference. Did my poor performance imprison me? Did it disappoint others?” The answer; Yes and no. I’m sure what I feel is an utter and complete poop pile, others looked at as not my best.
My prison (if you can call it that) is my shame, my embarrassment for not hitting the mark. What was this pee yew bonanza you ask? I didn’t preach my best. I didn’t do my best at something I love to do. I tried my darndest though. For two sermons. Hahahaha.
Listen friends, falling, failing, or stinking it up royally in the pursuit of following Christ can still change lives. It can still end in victory even if we feel like we failed. It can still bring healing. It can still declare that Jesus is the Son of God. The light of the world. The saving grace. The Father who loves us. Who is full of mercy. Who is quick to forgive us. Who makes allllll things work together for our good. He makes crooked places straight and somehow, flips our failures. Restores our dignity and sets us in a spacious place.
Perhaps your failure isn’t like mine. Maybe you farted on stage. Gained all your weight back. Got caught in a lie. Trained for a marathon, to not cross the finish line due to a injury. Made a declaration of faith and now you’re in the hallway of waiting. (Insert cricket chirp) Perhaps your mistake embarrassed another.
The list of humiliation factors are endless. We will disappoint others with our shortcomings. They will roll their eyes. Gossip, trash talk and possibly snicker, mock and point at our failures. And worst yet, we highlight, replay and cringe over our own poopy performance.
But this can’t stop us. We MUST keep trying, plowing, pushing and pressing. Stay the course regardless of a hiccup , bump or even total wipe out. Failure in forward motion still takes ground. I often take new territory one body length at a time. 🙃
Peter is a pretty good example of someone who bounced back. Not just from betraying Jesus, all though that’s pretty huge, but from fishing all night and catching nothing. The great fisherman Pete, failed at his one job. Until, Jesus. One word from the Messiah to try again, and Peter risked it. He obeyed after his failure and the nets overflowed with fish.
Paul was not known for being a powerful speaker but as a writer, he tore up the pages. 1/3 of the New Testament to be precise.
Joan of Ark wavered toward the end of her life but recovered her faith before she was executed.
Many “GREATS” faltered, flopped or failed at things they were good at. Countless faith heroes had crossroads of saying yes after the fact; Moses. David. Sampson, my dad, me…and you.
We have the DNA of an overcomer. We are woven together with the fibers of being more than a conqueror, and we have the promise of an inheritance of life after death and failures. We are wired to rise again.
I promise, there is life after failure, there is joy too. Cast that net friends and take a risk.