Tag Archives: failing

Start Running Again

I’m going to tell you something, but you have to promise not to laugh. Years ago, I lived near the local YMCA. I had a membership and would use it to exercise. They had their treadmills right up front facing the window towards the parking lot. I went in and started jogging on one working my way up to running looking outside. There was a TV in the room, but it was four machines over to the right and up in the corner. As I was running, something came on that made me look. I started watching TV while running. My right foot missed the treadmill and landed on the side, which is stationary. I went forward, hit the front of the machine, fell backwards on my rear onto the now sprinting speed treadmill. It shot me off backwards. I did a backflip when I hit the floor. I jumped up, like nothing happened, because people were in there jogging next to me. I got on the treadmill, ran for about 10 seconds, turned off the machine, walked out and never went back.

I’ve never been able to get on a treadmill without thinking about that moment since. Falling shook my confidence in those machines even though it was my fault. As a former runner, I should have known better than to look anywhere but straight ahead while running. Looking anywhere else distracts you from the goal and causes you to drift, losing precious time. In this case, I lost my pride too. The same feelings happen when we take our eyes off of Jesus and fall. Sometimes our fall is public and we feel like we can’t face those people again. Sometimes there’s a constant reminder of it that causes us to hang our head in shame even though we’ve been forgiven. And almost all the time, you have feelings of being a second rate Christian because of it. I’m here to tell you those feelings of shame and condemnation are not from God.

Proverbs 4:25 says, “Look straight ahead with honest confidence; don’t hang your head in shame” (GNT). It’s time to pick up your head and start running again. Your sin and your past is no longer remembered by God. It has been cast as far as the East is from the West (Psalm 103:12). There is a robe of Christ’s righteousness around you and your relationship with God is based on that and not your past failures. It’s time to get back on track and to start moving ahead with confidence. You’ve stayed in the swamp of despondency long enough. God still has a plan and a purpose. Nothing you do could ever remove that from you. It is irrevocable according to Romans 11:29. So fix your eyes straight ahead on Jesus and start running once again.

Photo by Adi Goldstein on Unsplash

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Keep Failing

Several years ago I decided I was ready for the next step in my career. I wanted to be the General Manager of a retail store. I put on my suit, rehearsed answers of my achievements, thought of people I had helped get promoted and confidently walked into the interview. The District Manager followed the script for a little while then said, “I hate these questions. They don’t really tell me anything. Tell me about a time when you failed.” I sat there with a blank face. My heart was pounding. I thought, “A failure? Why does he want to know about my failures? Is he trying to keep me from the job?” As I searched for a good failure, I asked him to repeat the question. I gave him a failure when everything turned out good, but he wasn’t satisfied. He wanted one where I crashed and burned because he wanted to see how I responded to it.

Our past failures are something that so many of us try to hide. In fact, we are so afraid of failure that we typically won’t ever put ourselves in a position to fail at doing something. We try to stick with what we know so we’re always succeeding. What I’ve learned, and the point my District Manager was trying to find out if I knew is that failure is the greatest teacher. It is also the path to grace. If we never fail, we have no need for grace. If we never try to do something beyond our abilities, we also keep our faith small by never trusting God to do something through us. God rarely calls us to do things that we can do in our own strength and abilities because He knows pride is always knocking on our door waiting to take credit for our successes. But, when we do things beyond our abilities, it forces us to seek and rely on Him.

James 1:5 says, “And if anyone longs to be wise, ask God for wisdom and he will give it! He won’t see your lack of wisdom as an opportunity to scold you over your failures but he will overwhelm your failures with his generous grace” (TPT). God doesn’t ridicule our failures. He’s not waiting to strike us down when we fail either. He sees them as opportunities to grow us and to lavish His grace on us. When we’re called to something greater than our abilities, seek His wisdom first, then step out in faith and do it. If you fail, it doesn’t mean you didn’t hear God or that He didn’t come through for you. It quite often means you and God have two different definitions of failure and success. Don’t let what you think is a failure keep you down. Get back up, trust His grace and keep walking in faith because to keep playing things safe is truly a failure.

Photo by Julian Dutton on Unsplash

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Test Day

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I’ve never really liked tests before even though I’m pretty good at them. Any time the word “test” comes up, I think of one of my high school teachers, Mr. Hart. He loved giving tests. He would wear a red contact lens, the ugliest tie he could find and eat a bag of chips while you were taking it. He’d ask, “Is this bothering you,” and then give an evil laugh. He’d ask questions that would earn you a Nobel Prize if you could answer them. His “bonus” questions came from movies like “Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail”. Maybe my memory has added to his legend, but that’s how I remember taking tests in his class.

I remember doing a lot of studying for tests to make sure I passed. I read back through the chapter, looked at my notes, made flash cards and quizzed other classmates to prepare. You knew the subject matter, but not what to expect on the test. As a person who played sports, there was extra pressure to pass since the “No Pass No Play” law had gone into effect. I wouldn’t have let myself down by failing, but my team too. So I put a lot of time and energy into making sure I knew the material.

All those memories came flooding back when I read what Paul wrote to the Corinthian church in II Corinthians 13:5-9. He said, “Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don’t drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. (MSG)”. Paul was saying to do with our faith what I did for tests in school. Read the book (Bible), look at notes (commentaries), make flash cards (memorize scripture) and quiz other classmates (have accountability partners to help you learn and grow).

Just like we had to prepare for what Mr. Hart might throw at us, we need to be prepared for what might challenge our faith. Times of testing shouldn’t come as a surprise to us. They shouldn’t scare us either if we’ve prepared beforehand. If you can read this, you’ve lived enough life to know that you’re going to be tested. If you’re a Christian, you should know your faith will be tested. It’s not so that you will fail, but to make sure you know what you believe. When I give tests at work, I jokingly call them “celebrations of knowledge” to relieve the stress. I’m not trying to get you to fail, I’m trying to showcase how much you’ve learned.

God does that with us too. He’s not up there trying to see if you’ll fail when He tests you. He’s wanting to show you how much you’ve learned and what you need to work on. Paul understood this and encouraged us to test ourselves ahead of time so we could pass with flying colors. When we do that, we won’t take our faith for granted or drift along. We’ll know what we believe, be able to confidently speak God’s Word when the enemy comes against us and live out our faith with a purpose and a passion. What will you do today to prepare for the testing of your faith?

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