“The miracle, upside-down work of God is that our failure isn’t an obstacle, it’s an opportunity to remember to sink into God. Not having what it takes is not a liability, it’s a prerequisite. Maybe there is hope for us after all.” – Emily Freeman, “A Million Little Ways” (This book will forever change you, I highly recommend it!)
These words hit me hard enough to gasp at the pages of my book and read it out loud to myself over and over again. I have been learning in recent weeks how backwards the Gospel feels to human nature. Our world today labels failure as…well, failure. The label equates to not being good enough, and who wants that?
But God…he does not use failure as a chance to point and say, “Why did you think you could do that?” but an opportunity to experience him deeply and more intimately. I have seen this to be true in my life. When I succeed by the world’s standards, I tend to forget my need for a Savior. I do well on my own, or so I think. But somewhere along the way I always crash, and that’s normally the point I break down and realize I haven’t been “okay” all along.
But lately, there has been a change in my failures, a faint scent of hope drifts in. When I miss the mark, I feel okay because when I am at my lowest, I feel closest to God. As strange as it sounds, failing cripples me so much that it forces me to do nothing but fall into the Lord’s presence. I sit, most of the time crying (I can’t help it- I’m sensitive) and fully acknowledge my need for a Savior, a Provider, and a Protector. I think that is exactly what the author is saying in the excerpt at the beginning, “it’s an opportunity to sink into God.” When we are at our lowest, we do not have to find a way to fight and get back up to God, we simply have to look over. He is always there, sitting in the pit with us. Haven’t we known this since the beginning? His name is Emmanuel, God with us.
As if that news wasn’t good enough, there is more. We will never have what it takes to do it all on our own. Let those words sink into the depths of your heart and desires. If you do, I think you’ll find that truth incredibly freeing. Yes, there is no way we can do everything on our own; the pressure is off! We can exhale and let it all go. Human nature tells us there is a way, we are strong, and we are invincible. But the Bible tells us we are broken, selfish sinners, and there is nothing we can do about it. That’s the beauty of the Gospel. Where there was not a way, God made a way through Jesus. The same goes for our lives too. We can’t do it on our own, but the intimacy with our Creator and His work through us brings glimpses of His glory here on Earth. That is when we feel most complete, reveling in the Lord’s glory.
That is when the beauty of failure is revealed, when we allow our brokenness to remind us of our true identity and purpose. We are humans and we will fail. But God, by the power of the Gospel, is there in the midst of it all. He is in every helpless cry, every opportunity we are not given, every tear that falls, every relationship that ends, and so much more. We get to experience a hope in the midst of despair unlike anything this world can offer. People may call us crazy or they may call us weak, but that’s because we have a calling beyond what our human minds can comprehend. Moments like rejoicing in heartbreak, finding gratitude in the loss, and experiencing hope in the broken, feels like one giant contradiction. While it appears to be opposite to the human mind, God created them to be experienced together. Jesus came and shattered expectations. He blew our assumptions and way of life out of the water and presented a life that seems so wild, it is beautiful and appealing.
So the next time we want to roll up into a ball and never leave our rooms, let’s sink and rest into the comfort of a God who is not only with us, but intercedes for us. Maybe there is hope for us after all.
words by Lauren Grindstaff and photo by Gretta Sheehan