I’ve had them, had some doozies actually.
There was the year my oldest daughter had been pestering me all week with her chattery excitement about an upcoming birthday party for a friend. The day of the party, I told her it was time to go and double-checked the invitation on the way out the door. That’s when I found out that the party actually ended at 2:00, not began at 2:00. She had missed it completely. We drove anyway just to bring our present and apologize, but everyone was already gone.
I had one tearful extrovert of a 5-year-old that day.
And it was my fault. My own failure that had ruined her super-exciting day.
I apologized a million times and it still didn’t feel like enough. I took her to one of those play places with a million bouncy inflatables and she had the most fun jumping herself into exhaustion, but I still knew the truth—I had failed.
“Bad moments don’t make bad mamas!” That’s what Lysa TerKeurst says.
She’s right, of course. One missed birthday party doesn’t define me, doesn’t stuff me into a box of rejection or label me as a Failure-With-a-Capital-F.
But in that moment, it’s so hard to soak in any grace when your soul is rock-hard with shame.
And when you mess it all up, all those other mistakes come crashing right back down on your head from the places you’ve shelved them. Pretty soon, you’re covered in the trash of remembered failure.
You always….You never…..
We hear the absolute declarations that we simply are not good enough, our own voice of condemnation echoing in our own head and heart.
You always make a mess of things.
You never get it right.
You’re always so stupid, so flaky, so forgetful, so short-tempered….
You’ll never be as good as she is…
God can’t use you.
Chris Tiegreen writes:
We are apt to think that failure disqualifies us from serving God well. To the contrary, sometimes it is the only thing that does qualify us. It removes any pretense of self-reliance. Like a phoenix rising, we ascend from the ashes of our own undoing, testifying to the resurrecting power of God. From failure to forgiveness, weakness to strength, death to life—it’s God’s way. Remember that the next time you despair over your failures (365 Pocket Devotions).
We’re mess-ups, all of us. Somehow, some way, at some time, we’re going to fail.
That’s why we need grace, after all. That’s why we needed a Savior: because on our own, we’ll never be perfect, never good enough, never all right.
But there’s Jesus, not just ready to pour out forgiveness afterward; He prays for us in advance.
Jesus looked right at Simon Peter sitting at the Passover Meal, that Last Supper, and said:
“But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:32 NIV).
What grace is this?
Before Peter ever denied Christ, Jesus had been praying for him.
Before Peter’s sin, Jesus already assured him of restoration, promising not just that he would “turn back,” but that Peter could be the one to “strengthen your brothers.”
Jesus promised Peter, “After you’ve failed and you’ve returned to me, I can still use you. More than that, that’s WHEN I can use you.”
Sometimes our own failure makes us most useful to God.
When we receive grace, we learn to give grace.
When we are at our weakest, we learn to rely on His strength and not our own (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Maybe we don’t see the hope right away, not with the mess lying fresh all around us. It’s hard to see beauty in all those ashes. Hard to see grace in the hard and mercy in the difficult.
But the Psalmist wrote:
The Lord helps the fallen
and lifts those bent beneath their loads
(Psalm 145:114 NLT).
Have you tripped up? Have you fallen? Have you crashed headlong into that dark pit?
Do you feel weighed down by the load of shame and guilt and condemnation?
The Lord is there to help you and to hold you up.
Give what’s broken to Him and let Him bring you to something new, something beautiful, and something for your good.
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now! To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2014 Heather King