Thursday, December 24, 2009
Seeing Purpose in my Failures
Yuck, I hate that word. It seems to have followed me around all year. For instance, I failed when I tried to get back into radio at 106.9 when my family did not respond well to the move to Asheville and everything seemed to fall apart, I failed at getting my book published when CBS told me I couldn't write about my Survivor experiences and then publishers told me I didn't have a platform without Survivor (gee, thanks), I failed at casting a vision for the future of the ministry God has given to me and I failed at the New Year's resolution I made to lose 10 pounds and instead I gained 10 pounds!
Because of my "failures" this year, I will be honest - I've had some discouragement set in. Yes, we have had some successes and I'm so thrilled about that - people have responded to the message of Christ through our ministry and I couldn't ask for more than that! But I know you know what I mean when I say that the failures we experience can be really difficult, in spite of many successes. I began to ask: why am I in ministry? What does God really want me to do? Am I forcing it? What direction does He want me to take? These questions and many more have run through my over-thinking mind more times than I care to admit. It seems like everything new that I tried this year has slammed into a brick wall and I'm left with questions.
Slowly, though, God has revealed to me that these "failures" are anything but the end of the ministry He has in store for me. I'll give you some examples...
I had lunch with a dear friend who contacted me last week about an opportunity to serve over in Liberia in June. I met her when I was in Asheville working at 106.9. We attended the same church and connected immediately. I would not be exaggerating to say that her friendship was a life-saver for me when we lived there and everything in our lives seemed to be falling apart. When she contacted me last week, she started her message with these words "I think I know why God allowed our paths to cross...". I began to tear up immediately as I was so encouraged to hear that there could possibly be a good purpose in that move that seemed like such a monumental failure to me. Who knows where this whole thing will lead, but I'm greatly encouraged that God may be opening a door for me to bring the Good News of Jesus to the poor in Liberia! My heart races with excitement as I think of what a privilege it would be to serve these sweet people!
When I was working on the book that was declined when publishers did not think I had a platform without Survivor, I was crushed and devastated. I understand their point - a platform sells books. Without Survivor as my platform, they were afraid nobody would know who I am and that would be too risky. As I prayed and poured out my heart in sobs to God, I felt Him speak to my heart...Survivor as a platform is sinking sand. Your platform must be built on the Solid Rock. Immediate relief flooded my weary soul as I remembered an important lesson I learned while on Survivor: Man's rejection is God's protection. He is protecting me - He has a plan and I can trust it. The world may think my platform doesn't exist, but God knows it does and He's building it brick by sturdy brick. If He wants me to write a book, He will make it happen without a sinking sand platform!
My vision for the ministry God has given me has been all over the place this year. Does He want me writing? Speaking? On the radio? Does He want me to stay at home and be a full-time mom? I just wasn't sure. So my husband and I have been purposefully praying and seeking the Lord's will for the ministry. I'm beginning to see that I was focusing too much on what I thought God wanted me to do and not enough on my personal relationship with Him. That will change in 2010 as I just rest in Him and trust Him to show me the vision - one that I'm already getting small glimpses of but have not solidified yet (stay tuned!).
I'm also reminded that everyone at the foot of the cross when Jesus took His last breath thought that He had failed, too. They assumed He was a fraud, that His whole story was bogus. But they realized, after three days, that He was anything but a failure when He was resurrected! What the world sees as a failure, God sees as an opportunity to begin a new thing. And that new thing is always the better thing!
All of this to say....failure is not always what it seems to be. Failure may feel like a death of sorts and in a weird way, it kind of is like a death. But without death, there would never be a resurrection and new life! Have you had some failures this year, too? Know that God has a purpose and a plan for your life - whether it seems like it or not. We cannot stand still and never try, though. We must walk forward and take risks for God and trust that if we are walking in the wrong direction He will turn us around, however He needs to. This year, God has had to turn me around several times and it's been painful. But you know, even though the year has been marked with failures, there was also some successes and I'm beginning the new year 2010 with hope - because God is not finished with me yet!
Philippians 1:6 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
Oh, one more thing....As far as the 10 pounds, I'd really like to say that I'm finding purpose in that failure, but honestly, the only thing I've learned is that I now have 20 pounds to lose in 2010! But with God's help and some self-control, I totally see that happening! :)