This following post is adapted from Ps Ryan Smith's message on Sunday 16th September, at the C3 Oxford Falls 10am service. Watch it here.
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus' body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, ͞Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb? But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. Don’t be alarmed, he said. You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”
Mark 16:1-7 NIV
Failure is a golden opportunity for us all. It is immature to expect that life will be perfect, that our decisions will be perfect and that the outcomes of our efforts will be perfect. In fact, when you make a decision to follow Christ, you can expect challenges to come your way that will test your character and resolve. Maturity demands that we move on after failure and leave the past behind.
Life is full of change. Our relationships change and our relationship with God changes. The dialogue of those relationships changes too. Sometimes we even see these shifts as failures. But new seasons come and maturity is to embrace that change and move on and follow Christ. Failure is the unwillingness to learn from past mistakes and not remain open to what God has for us in the future. We need to change and be willing to learn. We are defined not by our mistakes, but how we are transformed through our response to failure.
In Mark 16:7 the angel says to Mary and the other women, ‘But go, tell His disciples – and Peter - that He is going before you into Galilee...’ Why did the angel specifically mention Peter apart from the disciples ? Because Peter especially needed to know that Jesus was speaking to him. Peter had decided that it was all over. His dreams dashed. He had denied Christ. He failed. It had all failed. But the Bible is full of stories where men and women had thought it was all over. People who had come to the end of themselves and the end of their own strength. They were stopped. But in this place God can start something. Even though Peter had denied Jesus, heaven did not deny Peter. Heaven understands us and knows we are not disqualified when we fail.
God doesn’t measure success, He measures faithfulness. Maturity is not an age thing, it is the acceptance of responsibility. What is the mature response to failure ?
Submit yourselves to the cross of Christ and repent from sin. Have your self-image continually renewed by Jesus. Bring your heart before Him. One definition of holiness is to have no mixed motives. Matthew 5:8 says ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.’ Address the issues of the heart and your heart will be pure and holy.
If you wait around for perfect conditions to start or do something, you will never start (Ecclesiastes 11:4). Stop trying to be perfect. Freedom is found when we accept that life isn’t perfect and we are not perfect. Life is a constant tension. Failure can cause you to freeze up, stop and stagnate. Failure and inadequacy is part of being human. But we move forward, we keep moving, keep pressing on and do what we know we should do. There will be seasons when you follow Christ out of just obedience. There may be pain, confusion and disappointment that you are working through. But be mature and faithful even when you do not feel like it.
Pray for guidance
Don’t feel bad if you do not know what to do. Having no idea is an opportunity to hear from God. Go to God and pray. If you have to make a decision follow the way of peace. Psalm 23.
Do not doubt. Procrastination and doubt are driven by fear. You have to decide. You cannot be in two places at the same time. Obstacles exist to be removed. (Mark 11:22-23)
Something to Talk About:
- Has failure ever ‘stopped you in your tracks’ ? How did you get unstuck ?
- Are there any personal failures negatively affecting you ? What is the mature response ?
- What areas in your life can you step up, make decisions and take more responsibility ?