Defining Moments: Failure

Failure is one of the hardest results to accept. No student likes getting a term paper back with a big red “F” written on the top. Nobody likes being told that you didn’t meet someone else’s expectations or standards. Honestly, there are few things in life that are as deflating as hearing that you’ve failed, that despite your best efforts you just didn’t make the cut.

Failure usually comes in two contexts. There could be a graded scale, like grades in school, where failure is at the end of the scale represented by a big fat “F”. It could also be one of two results that are used for a final decision: pass or fail. No maybe, sorta, or kinda about it, the decision is either pass or fail.

But there’s another way where failure comes into play, maybe the most important way: when we don’t live up to what’s expected of us, we fail. These would be the moral failures, the scandals, the light-bulb-flashing-newspaper-reporting-microphone-in-your face type of failures that the tabloids love to run and the ones we can’t stop reading about.

One of the greatest examples that I’ve seen of someone who embraces the defining moments of failure is Ted Haggard, the former pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, just 40 minutes away from my house. Say what you will about his road to redemption but I have seen more than my fair share of information and insight regarding his journey back from scandal to say that I admire his courage and his heart. Did he screw up? Yes. Has he proven to have a repentant heart? Yes. Is God using him in a mighty way to share the beauty of redemption and restoration? Absolutely.

God has an incredible history of using moments of failure as defining moments in people’s lives. For all the Bernie Madoff’s, Ted Haggard’s, baseball steroid dopers, and Hosni Mubarak’s of the world the temptation to be swallowed by failure can seem incredible at times. Failure swings open our opportunity for God to prove His greatness and goodness to us despite our shortcomings. Failure is our chance to look at God and ask, “Now what?”

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