Perhaps one of the greatest challenges to most Christians is the tendency to quit after they have failed. Our contemporary culture has not exactly bred resiliency and tenacity into us, so overcoming obstacles and persevering in the face of difficulties prove to be illusive for so many people who claim to have faith. Our situation in life is not helped by the fact that the Scriptures tell us that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God!” (Romans 3:23) The history of Christianity is littered with the stories of people who ran the race of life well and accomplished a great deal only to quit and fall by the wayside after one great failure or another. Of course, in our own day, who doesn’t know the names of Jim Bakker or Jimmy Swaggert?!
Over the years, I’ve had person after person tell me in excruciating detail why they could not serve God or live a Christian life. I’ve learned of humiliating defeats, moral failures, and awkward attempts that fell short of their goals. So many of us live our lives for years with the heavy burden of failure imagining that God oppressed us as much as we oppress ourselves! Literally, we become the victims of our own evaluations ignoring the fact that God forgives. Much of our lives becomes frozen in time tethered to past failures, sins, and defeats. The acid voice of the Evil One whispers his crushing messages that magnify our foibles and errors from the past. He tells us that God cannot or will not use us in His kingdom’s work because we are sinners. And --- the trouble is that we tend to agree with him!
It doesn’t have to be that way, you know. The Scriptures are filled with the stories of men and women who would be evaluated as “failures” but who were used by Almighty God in marvelous and wonderful ways. The prostitute Rahab became God’s human intelligence gatherer in Canaan for the Israelite spies, and she is listed in the ancestry of our Lord Jesus Himself! Moses, who threw away his royal upbringing and failed at bringing revolution to Hebrew slaves, became God’s spokesman to Egypt’s Pharaoh and God’s leader for the Israelites. Simon Peter, the big fisherman who once claimed that he would die with Christ denied Him three times on the night before His crucifixion.
As a consequence of his failure, Peter did exactly what most of us would have done in his place. Though he left his fishing boat and nets to follow Christ as a “fisher of men,” following his monumental failure in denying Christ he returned to fishing thinking that ministry was over for him. It was after the resurrection that Jesus found him and asked three times if Peter loved Him. With each question, Peter was cut to the heart. He had not changed his allegiance to Christ nor his knowledge of Who Jesus really was. What had changed was Peter’s grand failure and his disqualification, he thought, from further service.
In the passage cited above, Jesus made it clear that Christian living and Christian service are, at their heart, matters of our love for Christ more than our inherent abilities and acquired skills. We are to “feed His lambs” as an outgrowth of our love for Jesus. Though bruised and battered, though painfully aware of our failures and inabilities, though not wanting to forgive ourselves, we MUST NOT GIVE UP! The remedy for our shortcomings is to repent of our sins and continue working in the ways and places God sovereignly allows us! To continue in service requires courage, and God supplies it when we need it in abundance.
Two times in the Scriptures Jesus finds Simon Peter and his fellow fishermen with their boats on shore and nets hung up for repair and drying. They’ve done their best and have caught nothing. In both instances, Jesus makes it graphically clear that HE brings the success, not them. His challenge to them, as well as to each of us, is to “keep on keeping on.” When we fall down, we get up! When we stumble, we regain our footing and continue going forward. When our friends fall down, we pick them up and encourage them to move forward in faith and love.
This week, DON’T let the voice of Satan keep you from doing what you should in your faith and service. You may have lost faith in yourself and others may have lost faith in you, too. However, don’t lose heart! for God knows that we are weak and that we are sinners. His “faith” is in Himself to work through us accomplishing His eternal purposes day by day. He asks us the same question He asked Peter, “Do you love me?” Our positive response to that question is also our volunteering to continue serving Him. He hasn’t given up on us --- for He is in us and can accomplish more than we imagine.
Look up, friend, from the hanging head and shrugged shoulders of defeat and despair. Do you love the Lord Jesus? Then serve Him this week! Look for the people He will bring across your path for ministry and witness. Look for the opportunity to serve a covenant body where you can worship, grow, and learn. Tomorrow really IS the first day of the rest of your life! Use each day to His glory…..starting now! God bless you as you do.