Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Dealing With Failure

Dusty SandalsThomas Edison once worked for months to find a filament that would burn for more than a few seconds for his incandescent light bulb. He tried over 700 filaments and each one was a failure. One reporter interviewed Edison and said, “It must be frustrating to work so hard and see no results.” Edison replied, “Oh, I have lots of results. I know 700 things that won’t work!”
Jesus told the disciples that if they were not accepted in a certain village to “shake the dust off their garments as a testimony against them.” (Luke 9:5). The act of “shaking off the dust” was a symbolic way of saying, “I don’t want anything in that city to remain on me. I don’t want their bitterness, their rejection, and their lack of faith to remain part of me.” Jesus didn’t want their feeling of failure to bog them down. Instead, He told them to just shake it off and move on to the next village.
Evangelist Jay Strack has written a book entitled Shake off the Dust. Jay was physically and emotionally abused as a child. He started doing drugs when he was 13 and by the time he was 16, he was hooked and was dealing drugs to pay for his habit. He was busted and found himself as a teenage junkie and criminal. He met Jesus, but it took him a long time to shake off the dirt and dust of his troubled past. In his book, he writes, “As long as you remain a prisoner to your past, you will never know the freedom of the future. You can’t spend the rest of your life sitting in the ashes of devastation, crying over what went wrong. You’d don’t have to carry around the dirt of your past mistakes. Get up, shake off the dust, and go on.”
Is there some dirty, dusty experience or failure from your past still lingering on your character? What a simple way to deal with failure: shake off the dust and move on.
Even the very best followers of God stumble and fall at times. Judas and Peter both failed. Judas betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. Peter denied Jesus three times. What was the difference between Judas and Peter? Judas went out in despair and hung himself. On the other hand, although Peter felt as badly as Judas did, he recognized his failure, he wept bitterly at his mistake and then he got up, and shook of the dust from his failure, and moved on.
The Bible says in Proverbs 24:16: “For though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again, but the wicked are brought down by calamity.” Don’t become a victim of your past. You can’t do anything about your past mistakes except confess them and learn from them. Once you have recognized your mistake, move on. I have failed as a husband, a father, a pastor and a Christian more times than I can count. But Jesus picks me up, dusts me off, and sets me to following Him again.
Have you failed morally? Shake off the dust and keep on moving ahead. Have you failed relationally? Shake off the dust—keep on moving ahead. Have you failed financially? Stand up, shake off the dust. Jesus is not through with you yet.
Isn’t that what the Gospel of Jesus Christ is all about? The Bible says we are all sinners. We have all failed and fallen short of the kingdom of God. But God does not leave us there in our failure. Instead, He took the initiative and sent His Son Jesus to be the Savior of the World.  Jesus carried our sins and failures on Himself when He went to the cross. He took the just penalty for our sin, dying in our place. And God validated His sacrifice by raising Jesus from the dead and seating Him at His right hand on the heavenly throne.
Now Jesus offers forgiveness of sin, and eternal life to all who come to Him. It is so simple: believe in Jesus. He gives you a new life, His life.
How have you dusted off after failure?
(This post is the fifth in a series called SIMPLIFY. The other posts are: A Simple Authority for Our Mission , A Simple Approach to Ministry, and A Simple Attitude Toward Possessions. Some of the ideas I’m sharing in this series came from a message called “Packing Light for the Journey of Life” by Pastor David Dykes in Texas.).

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