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Maybe you feel like a failure sometimes?

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I was made aware recently that I have not submitted a post to this blog for almost a year.  Now, it may be that you really don’t want to read this blog, or simply don’t care whether it’s here or not.  But for me, since it’s something I committed to doing, this lapse is unacceptable.  When told about it, in fact, my out loud response was, “I have failed miserably….”  And later, I also thought to myself, “… again.”   Failing to write a blog on a regular basis (unless you count once per year as “regular”?) is not too big of a deal.  But what about my other failures?  Failure to be on time (that’s a favorite of mine).  Failure to speak the truth in love.  Failure to reach out to someone who has been on my heart and mind. (I think of the movie “Cool Hand Luke”: “What we have here is failure to communicate.”)  Failure to pray when I told someone I would (this one is pretty bad).  And the list goes on. Maybe you feel like a failure sometimes?  There are all sorts of reasons for us to feel that way.  The apostle Paul, who actually had many reasons to be proud and boastful, experienced what he called “a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.” (2 Corinthians 12:7)  There has been endless speculation about the nature of this thorn.  Whatever it was, it was not trivial, for Paul pleaded with the Lord to take it away from Him.  Apparently, the Lord was OK with a bit of failure, though, because instead of taking it away, He said to Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)   Failure can – and should – cause us to understand our complete reliance on God.  It should reveal our need for Him, and draw us closer to Him.  “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:26)   This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t change.  In fact, as we draw closer to Him, it may mean (hopefully!) we will begin seeing things His way instead of our way; that we will begin to gain an eternal perspective rather than keep a merely human perspective.  And that may nudge us, if not push us, into some changes.  John Wooden, former head basketball coach of UCLA, said “Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to change might be.”   For Paul, his change was attitudinal.  Rather than continued fretting over his thorn, he wrote this: “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)  That’s an attitude adjustment, from boasting in self, to reliance on God.   That may be what you need, too.  Or, if you are feeling like a complete failure, you may need to change your understanding of who you are.  You are loved by God, and when you receive Jesus into your life, you are His child that He has chosen for good things!  “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” (1 Corinthians 1:27)  What might be God inviting you to change?   As for me, while I used to tell people I would pray for them – and still do that sometimes – these days I often pray in the moment, with them, right when they ask.  Why wait?  (Thank you, Pastor James Blankinship, for that inspiration.)   And as for this blog, Greg King recently suggested to our Elders that from time to time, one of the Elders could submit a post, a suggestion they gladly received.  For me, this is changing a mindset – from “I’m the pastor, and I’ve got all these things to do, including writing a regular blog,” to, “I’m the pastor of wonderful church full of people with gifts and talents both similar and dissimilar to my own, who are more than capable of doing amazing ministry and evangelism!  What a blessing!  God is good!”  Of course, I’ve known this all along, but sometimes I need that thorn of failure as a reminder.
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