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Dealing with Failure

by Brian Blount

What do you do with your failures, sin, and poor choices? What do you do with those images that often suspend time, that play in slow motion like a car accident? Your life flashes before you. Fear grips you and strikes at the core of your being. This is often what happens with our failures. We relive the moment of our failures, poor choices, sin, humanity. The suspended time lapse we live in swirls with questions of why did I do or say that. That suspension of being trapped in the moment of our failure is haunting and paralyzing. It leads into a depression that shackles us to a hopeless despair. We mask it, and we try to hide the skeletons of failure. But the reality is that the haunting never goes away by our masking it; it only collects more clutter. Like a junk drawer, it's harder to find those valuables you've placed in there. When we don't deal with our failures, they become so magnified and overwhelming that we shut down or dump out everything in order to find what we are looking for.

The truth is we all fail, sin, and have a skeleton or two we are trying to hide. The more we hide, the greater the haunting. Dealing with our failure and sin requires us to recognize the mess, fall forward into the arms of grace like the prodigal son, and let the Father lavish his love and acceptance on us. We must learn to draw our identity not in our failures, sin, or humanity but in the destiny of his gaze and breath of life that comes when his Spirit speaks to the dry, dead bones of hopelessness and despair that our failures and sin have produced. We know that the wages of our sins, failures, and poor choices are death. And we experience death at some level every time we fail, and we are all faced with the reality that death is coming and it comes for all. What man had sown in his disobedience produced death. So death stalks us all. It's like a bloodhound tracking you down; like a criminal on the run.

We must learn to feast at the table of his grace instead of feasting on the failures, sin, and poor choices. We bring our failures to the foot of the cross where a man who knew no failure, sin, or poor choices embraced our punishment as though he deserved it; where he was stripped naked, bloody, and beaten beyond recognition, and cried out, "Forgive them, for they know not what they do." Mercy triumphed over judgment that day. The bloodhounds of hell became confused and whimpered away. Though death came, it had been given, not taken. Jesus gave up his life so that the punishment of death was broken in His body, and life now flowed where he was pierced. Because Jesus was forsaken, no one would ever have to be. His death became our death and his life our life. No longer I live but Christ who lives in me. The life I now live, I live by faith in him, not myself.

So what do we do with our failures, sin, and poor choices? We exchange our wages of sin for the currency of his grace and hope. That exchange doesn't come through a prayer alone but in a submitted life saturated in the awareness that every breath we breathe is a gift of grace. This great exchange is for all who have been feeding on the junk food of this life and are left emaciated, starving for the nutrients of heaven. We are invited to come to the table of grace and feast freely. We can't buy our way out. We can't climb our way out or hide. We can only come to his table and consume his body that was broken for us and drink from the life of his blood that was spilled out. Then the DNA of his life permeates through us—no longer the darkened imprisonment of failures, sin, and poor choices. In this great exchange, we are offered life, and life more abundantly.

So, in short, we simply admit our need, and we consume his grace and don't stop consuming it. We delight in it rather than our failures, sin, and poor choices. When we consume this grace, we too cry out, "Forgive them, for they know not what they do." God's gift of grace frees us to forgive ourselves and others—to grant relief from payment, and to cease to feel resentment against an offender. We pardon those, including ourselves, who have harmed us. Grace exchanges our failures, sin, and poor choices into hope and life as we consume grace and cultivate forgiveness.

So what will you do with the haunting failures, sins, and poor choices? We have two tables to feed from: our failures of sin and poor choices or his table of grace. Death or life. Let's choose life and His grace.

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