We’re coming to the close of 2014, and now is the time when many evaluate the past year to set goals and make changes for the new year.
If I’m not careful, this simple exercise can either lead me to feel proud of my accomplishments or, more commonly, to despair over failures, real or perceived.
I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs this year. I can think of times that I’ve missed opportunities to speak for the Lord, said words I wish I hadn’t, and had moments of failure as a wife and mother.
I’ve majored on minors, been impatient, let emotions get the better of me, slacked on things that needed to be done. I’ve flat out neglected my devotions on days and allowed busyness to steal my joy. I’ve served without heart, and have barely tolerated people I should have loved.
In short, in 2014, I was a sinner. Maybe you’ve had your share of failures as well. I want to give you several reasons to hope when you reflect and see failure. Gospel hope, friends.
1. 1 John 1:9 is still in the Bible. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” We serve a forgiving and patient God who knows our weakness, and that we are but dust, and loves us anyway.
2. I am “in Christ” and my standing “in Him” is not dependent on my works at all. The Bible calls all my good works “filthy rags” which amount to nothing. Jesus lived a perfect life in my place, and His righteousness was credited to my account. Justified: Just as if I had never sinned. Just as if I’d always obeyed. All I can say is thank you, Lord!
3. God’s love is not dependent on our performance or failure. We don’t have to “qualify” for His love. Even in failure, God loves us and wants us to draw near to Him.
4. God uses imperfect people. Don’t let a day or week of failure freeze you from pressing onward. There are so many people around you who need to see the love of God through you. You can be the hands and feet of Christ to someone. Don’t let condemning thoughts stop you. Grace is for sinners for saving faith and for daily living!
5. When I am unfaithful, He is faithful.
I love this passage from Spurgeon:
You fell in Adam; did he cease to love you? No; he became the second Adam to redeem you.
You sinned in practice, and brought upon your head the condemnation of God; you deserved his wrath and his utter anger; did he then forsake you? No!
He sent his minister after you; you despised him; he preached the gospel in your ears; you laughed at him; you broke God’s Sabbath, you despised his Word. Did he then forsake you? No!
And at last he arrested you by his grace, he humbled you, he made you penitent, he brought you to his feet, and he forgave you all your sins.
Since then, has he left you? You have often left him; has he ever left you?
You have had many trials and troubles; has he ever deserted you? Has he ever turned away his heart, and shut up his bowels of compassion? No, children of God, it is your solemn duty to say “No,” and bear witness to his faithfulness.
I can attest to God’s faithfulness and my own fickleness. I’ve had times of “leanness” in my soul” and didn’t desire Him or feel like praying.
I’ve had days when I wanted to be served and resented serving others.
What about you? As you reflect, are you discouraged by your failures?
Let me encourage you to run to Christ at the start of this new year. There you’ll find grace and mercy. Repentance is a beautiful “turning around” moment where we agree with God when He tells us who He is and who we are.
Friends, we are His beloved. However flawed and sinful, He loves us.
THAT is what gives you the courage to go to Him, move in close, and talk to Him. Even when you don’t know what to pray or what to say, do it anyways. He’ll pick you up at the first sign of distress. Moms, you know how quickly you’ll pick up your whimpering baby who can’t fully communicate their needs. You pick them up at their first “whaa!” God’s the same way. He’ll help us because His heart is for us and He loves us.
And that’s good news in my book.