What child has not fallen while learning to walk or ride a bike or scooter? None. We all fell. Is falling a failure? In the strictest sense, it is. Think then:
What parent has condemned their child for falling? We all know it is part of the learning process. Sometimes we even think it is “cute”. Why then do some think God is eager to condemn them when they fail? This is a wrong image because nothing could be more untruthful.
The scene in today’s Scripture passage is Jesus’ last Passover observance with the Twelve–the last EVER. He calmly says, “Tonight all of you will desert me.” We would hear it as, “You’re going to fail… TONIGHT!”
Did Jesus condemn them for their upcoming failure? No. He understood that it was part of their growing process. Their failure was not His focus. The takeaway is that we too are going to fail–so understand this we must!
I am in the latter stages (I hope) of revelations of a stronghold that has been operating in my life for most of my life. (I told you in a recent TS message that we ALL have strongholds–ingrained patterns of thinking–that must be broken and that no one is immune.)
It began with an incident when I was about twelve. The result was that I became “hyper-accountable”. I beat myself up unmercifully for every failure I perceived. I gave other people grace but saved none for myself.
Seeing it now for what it is, I understand that I subjected myself to an expectation and scrutiny to which God did NOT subject me. I did it. God did not do it to me. Was this a failure? Yes–but one for which I cannot now beat myself up, now that I know what I know.
My self-condemnation was as foolish as a baby condemning itself because it fell while learning to walk. We know that would be foolish. We just cannot see how equally foolish we are when we do this to ourselves.
With that backstory, let me encourage you to hear Jesus’ words. Imagine Him saying to you, “You’re going to fail…” Then imagine Him continuing, “…but I understand. I’ve already seen it and it does not change my love for you one bit. My concern is not that you fail but that you learn why and keep going.”
For corroboration of this, look to the message given by the angel in the tomb after Jesus resurrection. He says in Mark 16:7, “…tell his disciples AND PETER [emphasis, mine].” The message was specific to include Peter AFTER he denied Jesus three times in His most vulnerable moments. Far from condemnation, this was a message of hope and tender love to Peter, given (I believe) at Jesus’ direction.
This is why I say that getting up is FAR more important than falling. Jesus’ desire is always to restore rather than to condemn. Even though I knew this, I still gave everyone else grace that I found virtually impossible to give myself. Perhaps this will ‘speak’ to a reader today.
The bottom line is that the only way you can really fail is to let the failure overcome you–which means not continuing to learn and grow in God. Don’t condemn yourself. Hear Jesus’ other words in John 8:11: “…neither do I condemn you.” If He does not, neither should you.
Today’s Seed™ Scripture and Prayer for Mar. 20, 2023:
Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives. “Tonight all of you will desert me,” Jesus told them. “For the Scriptures say, ‘God will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ (Mat 26:30-31 NLT)
Prayer: LORD, it was most likely very disturbing to the Twelve to be told, “You will fail… TONIGHT.” Though I never want to excuse failure, I must also be willing to acknowledge when I fail. And because You do not condemn me, I must resist condemning myself. Give me courage to pursue You with the confidence that You never stop loving me. Thank You that Your arms are always open to help me learn from my failures. Do whatever You need to do to make it so. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
(c) 2023 Randall Vaughn • All Rights Reserved • http://www.e-min.org
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‘Today’s Seed’ from E-MIN • Mar. 20, 2023
About Randall Vaughn:
With 40+ years as pastor, author, teacher, worship leader, and songwriter, Randall pioneered E-MIN in 1997–one of the earliest online ministries and today the longest operating. His passion is leading people to deeper, genuine relationship with God. He lives in Alabama with his lovely wife, Karen, and their dogs, Hadi and Rayah. He enjoys hiking, exploring new tech, and “prayer walks”.
Copyright (c) 2023 Randall Vaughn • All Rights Reserved.
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