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I’ve been dealing with my own feelings of failure for a while now. Have you ever felt that way? I read this story this week, and I poured tears as I contemplated my own “failure.”
There was this man. He was from out-of-town. He wanted to teach people about Jesus. That landed him in prison, and not just prison. First, he was stripped and beaten, and then they put him in prison.
He got out though.
And then you know what he said about that trip? He said, “It was not a failure.”
Public humiliation. Beaten! Imprisoned!
That was not a failure?? He was basically chased out of town. He can’t go back there.
But that man was Paul, and that town was Philippi. You can read more about that story in Acts 16:16-25 and 1 Thessalonians 2, all of chapter 2.
“You know, brothers, that our visit to you was not a failure. We had previously suffered and been insulted in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition.” 1 Thessalonians 2:1-2
It was not a failure because they STILL did share the gospel, as they set out to do. When we tell people the good news, that Jesus loves ALL of us and wants to save and be a friend to ALL of us, we aren’t responsible for how people respond to that. That doesn’t mean be a jerk and don’t care. That means don’t be obnoxious. Share it, and let the Holy Spirit do the rest.
Public disgrace does not equal failure.
Things not ending as planned does not mean we failed.
Being physically destroyed is not failure. It’s not.
You are not a failure either. Think of your most recent failure, and then consider. What did you learn? What good came out of that?
I was reading about all of these things in Children of the Day, by Beth Moore. It takes books like these to help me understand things like Acts 16 being tied to 1 Thessalonians. Believe me, I’d never figure that out on my own. Every single Beth Moore Bible study workbook I have ever read has been a massive blessing to me.
This one is no exception. She just HAD to go and ask us what our most recent failure is. She left a little blank space for us to write about it. Ha! I got out my spiral notebook and filled up a whole PAGE.
I wrote, and I thought, and I cried, and I prayed, and in the end I was reminded.
“Though a righteous man falls 7 times, he will get up, but the wicked will stumble into ruin.” Proverbs 24:16
Failure stings when it’s something that means the world to you. It stings like getting stung by a HIVE OF BEES or 50 fire ants.
I set out to home school those two years with two objectives:
- I wanted to give them that one-on-one boost with their academics.
- I wanted to improve their character. No, I can’t improve it myself, but I wanted to promote it. I wanted to provide the right environment and the right tools for the boys and God to work that out.
I was not able to accomplish what I wanted, academically, and to make it worse trying to be a teacher, homemaker, blogger, and mom all at once made me MISERABLE. It was heart-breaking. Even as I write about it again, it’s like my heart is all ripped up and bleeding. I want to pound my fists to the wall and then lay my head against it and cry until there’s no water left because no matter how hard I tried, everything felt like failure.
I love these children with such intensity, I want to fix every single problem that they have, but that’s not possible, is it? The ability to fix everything was so far beyond my control.
So I failed. Or so I thought. But you know what? I did not fail. They didn’t fail either. Nothing failed. There was nothing wasted here.
In those two years, I saw their character bloom. I saw love, humility, honesty, justice, kindness, and goodness in my boys.
Caleb was saved and baptized, of his free choosing during that time at home with me. I even heard him teaching his friends about Jesus.
There was spiritual warfare waged over the souls of my children those two years, and God won.
I grew to understand the boys’ strengths and weaknesses. I came to terms with my own limitations. We emerged a different family than when we went into this.
I failed in some ways in order to learn. Sometimes we have to fall to learn, to grow, to become.
We saw it happen with my children too. We watched them overcome the kind of adversity that would have CRUSHED me at their age. I would not have handled it with the strength, dignity, and courage that I watched my son display.
That’s not actually failure is it? But it sure feels like it when you’re laying in a wad on the ground.
So no, we have not failed. We have only fallen and gotten back up again, and we too shared the gospel in the process.
All of these thoughts led me to this song, and I can’t get it out of my head. Its “fall down and get back up” message resonated with me. Yes, we are trying EVERYTHING. It’s a fun song, and my favorite line is this one:
“Birds don’t just fly. They fall down and get up.”
You’ll have to click the link below to go to YouTube to see the lyrics and hear this song. It’s worth it.
Ok. Your turn to answer Beth Moore’s heart-wrenching question. Failure. When did you last feel it?
“Ask yourself: Did we do the will of God as best we perceived it? Were we authentic before God and man?” —Children of the Day, page 41, Beth Moore
And I would add, what did you learn? Then maybe it’s not such a failure after all, and even if it is, get back up again.