Failure - Monday Musing, March 15, 2021
Failure. I was getting ready for work the other morning, listening to Classical 107.5 on the radio. During a break in the music, I heard an advertiser say, “Those who fail to plan are planning for failure.” I didn’t catch the rest of the ad because the sentence I had just heard stopped me cold.
If failure is the state or condition of not meeting a desirable or intended objective, does God think we are a failure if we are not keeping up with our Lenten goals? In this season of Lent, we are afforded the opportunity to intentionally pause and reflect on our faith journey, but now halfway through the season perhaps life has gotten in our way. Oh sure, we have attended (or watched on YouTube) Sunday worship, and maybe even Wednesday Lenten Prayer, but deeper reflections on our faith? Who has time for that?
Jesus calls out to us, “Come, follow me” (Matt 4:19), “Come and be my disciple.” He is always inviting us along the path that he is traveling. Our calling is to join on this faith journey; a journey that is more focused on the travel than the destination itself. So, there is no failure or expectation of what we must do or not do at any given period of time. Our journey of faith includes learning from one another, which means there is no perfect plan.
But if planning is optional, then perhaps failure is inevitable, given the advertisement that I heard on the radio. If you think about it, many people in scripture could be viewed as failures: Israel failed to worship God alone (Isaiah 2:8); Aaron failed by making a carved image to worship (Exodus 32:4); Israel failed to keep the Sabbath holy (Exodus 16:27-30); and Eli failed to discipline his sons, and his sons failed to honor their father (1 Sam 2:22-25). I could name many more examples, but you get the picture.
Maybe we are being too hard on ourselves? We are human after all, which means we are definitely not perfect! Does the church give the impression that those on the inside are all pious and angelic? Whoever thinks that has probably not crossed the threshold of the church! Maybe that’s the problem – some think people of faith are high and mighty, and who would want to join a group knowing that they will fail to measure up to such high expectations?
I say stop. Stop thinking about faith as a game that has winners and losers, successes and failures, and that saints are the only ones welcomed. In my mind, the only failure is thinking that we can never measure up to God. “God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.” (1 John 4:16). There is no failure when it comes to God’s love – you can plan on that.