So what do we do with it? Consider Abraham, the very picture of a faithful man. You’ll find him in the very first book of the Bible, Genesis. In the fifteenth chapter, we find the moment in time when his name became synonymous with faith, “…The Lord took Abram outside and said to him, “Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!” And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith.” (Genesis 15:5–6 NLT). This faith was so outstanding that his original name, Abram, was changed to Abraham, inserting a name for God “ha” because of his faith! And God did give him a son to start this uncountable family legacy. But something happened between the promise (and Abe’s belief) and its fulfillment twenty-five years later (waiting…another subject). You can read about it in Genesis chapter 15 but let me give you the highlights. Abraham veered from the Creator’s plan for providing a son by agreeing to his wife, Sarah’s, plan to get a child by making a mother out of her maidservant, Hagar. That story line could come right out of a prime time television drama! It clearly is not in the will of God, and yet, Abraham is still the definition of a man of faith today. How can this be? It is simply that he didn’t let this mistake (failure) be the final move in his journey. Though the consequences of this sin were, and still are (as a contributing cause to unrest in the Middle-East) serious, he kept going on in the journey toward God and earned the title of righteous. Are you on the journey? Here are two takeaways. First, don’t be too easy on yourself when you fail. Sin is sin…call it out, cut it out, and make it right. Second, don’t be too hard on yourself when you fail. When you give those failures to Jesus, they turn into faith stepping-stones, just like Abraham’s. Oh, by the way, don’t let others excuse your sin or condemn you either (the Church has done poorly with this over the years). If my dad had given up when we were stuck or lost on a family drive, we wouldn’t have lived very long. Neither will you experience the new life in Christ if you allow failure to defeat you. Our Father won’t give up on you: “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Philippians 1:6 (NLT)
Since the time I was a little kid, I have loved being on the road. It was a regular ritual for my family to take Sunday drives, often, with no destination in mind (which got us lost on more than one occasion). One of my fondest memories is when my dad, right after I got my license, announced that he was tired of driving and that the role of chauffeur on family trips could be mine. Since then, I feel most comfortable behind the wheel. As a matter of fact, I don’t really care too much about being somewhere, but the trip is the thing for me! This setup has served me well in the journey with Jesus too! Maybe it could benefit you as well. God has lovingly revealed our destination: Christ-likeness for eternity with Him! Much like travelling to an earthly destination, we don’t have any impact on what it will be like once we get there. But our journey to that place is full of wonders and perils, opportunities and breakdowns, choices and consequences. It is to this journey of faith and to more faithfulness, that God has been calling me lately. The freshest leading of the Holy Spirit on this journey, has been about the role of turning back after failure. It is very natural for us (being naturally self-centered) to think that only success matters. Moving up any financial, material or personal ladders are not achieved (in our culture) through failure! The problem is, failure will be a part of this world until Jesus returns.