Failure. I am sure you have heard the phrase from the Apollo 13 mission, “Failure is not an option.” Sounds inspiring and heroic. I lived most of my life trying to avoid failure and instead found my life littered with failure of every type and color. As a result, I lived in hiddenness and fear, clothed in shame and condemnation. BUT! Then there was God, who clothed me in garments of salvation and draped me with love in His robe of righteousness! It would be amazing to say that was the end of my failures, but that would be to tell you a fairy tale.
When I find myself face-down in a big pile of failure, it comforts me to read in the Bible how God dealt with others in similar situations.
Adam and Eve – God created them out of love and for love, to be in His image and to be one with Him. They chose wrong and failed. God gave them a promise and provision. (Genesis 3:15, 21)
Abraham – God chose him and called him to leave his father’s house and family and gave him seven promises. Abraham did as God said, BUT he took Lot, his nephew. Genesis 12. Then he gave his wife over to foreign kings TWICE to save his own skin. As if that was not enough, he slept with his wife’s handmaiden to help God fulfill His promise of a child. God remained faithful and fulfilled all His promises and calls him a man of faith. (Hebrews 11)
Moses – Murderer. God’s deliverer, prophet and leader of His people. (Exodus 3:1-22)
Aaron – He leads the people astray by building a golden calf to worship. God appoints him as priest over His people. (Exodus 40:13)
Tamar – Treated unfairly by her two husbands and her father-in-law, Judah. She takes matters into her own hands and disguises herself as a prostitute and tricks Judah into sleeping with her so she can conceive and have a child. God brings her and her twins into the lineage of Christ. (Genesis 38:14-30)
David – God takes him from the tending sheep to king. Promises to build him a dynasty and promises from his own body will come the one who will build Him a temple. (2 Samuel 7) Then Bathsheba and Uriah hit the scene in 2 Samuel 11 and David commits adultery, tries deception and when that fails, he becomes a murderer. God calls him a man after his own heart (1 Samuel 13:14), the apple of His eye (Psalm 17:8) and maintains him as king. David and Bathsheba’s son Solomon builds the temple.
Samson – A womanizer, a trickster, deceived by lust, ended up blind, grinding grain for his enemies. In his death, he takes 3,000 people with him. (Judges 16) God lists him in the hall of fame of faith in Hebrews 11.
Peter – Denies Christ three times. Jesus tells him to feed His sheep. (John 21:17)
Saul of Tarsus – Chief of sinners, Pharisee of Pharisees. Persecutor, murderer, zealot. God changes his name to Paul and makes him an apostle and sends him to preach to both Jews and Gentiles the freedom of the New Covenant. (Acts 9)
Life was not easy for any of the people who failed, neither is it for any of us. BUT God did not exclude them because of their failures, He included them. He promises to all of us He will work all things (even our failures and pain) out for good. “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren . . .” Romans 8:28-29. Having God turn my failures to good, to use them to conform me to the image of Christ, causes me to trust and rest in Him, not in my ability to avoid failure!