When It’s Easier Just to Fail

There are many ways to fail this side of glory.

Moral failure. Financial failure. Career. Marital. Parenting. Friendship.

Worst of all is heart failure. Not a sudden cardiac arrest of the soul but that gradual dulling of spiritual passion or zeal that tempts us all at one time or another.

At the end of the day, failure isn’t that hard. It’s simply a matter of releasing our grip on whatever we were clutching and sliding, sliding away until it’s just plain out of reach.

We do it with relationships that become complicated. With friends who insist on telling us hard truths. We do it with churches that ask us to participate or change or engage in worship that is less comfortable than what’s familiar or suggest we reduce our media consumption to make time to pray.

We do it when church gets hard because of conflict or discussions of discipline or outreach.

We do it with work we believe God called us to do but with all our prayers and efforts, we aren’t seeing the results we believed we’d see “if God was in it.” Our platform is too small. Not enough people are responding. Return on investment doesn’t make sense to anyone around us. Maybe we didn’t hear God correctly. Maybe God doesn’t care as much about results as we thought. Maybe, we should just let go and catch up on everything we’ve missed on Netflix.

We do it with prayer. God seems to answer other people’s prayers. That happened to us for a while, too, but now, it just seems like a rote exercise, a little empty and robotic. We must not be one of those “praying types.” Easy enough to let it go. Who’s to know? We can pray in church and in our small group and only God knows we’ve started getting an extra thirty minutes of sleep instead of interceding for the world.

We do it with morality, finances, and health because we accept the lie that a little slip up, a tiny indulgence here or there doesn’t matter. It’s what we deserve. We’ve earned that little bit of something by being so good for so long. And then, we deserve it again and it wasn’t as long between that time. After all, we only live once and didn’t God forgive David, after all?

We do it with talking with people about Jesus because no one’s listening these days, right? We’re so worried about being “that Christian,” that one that turns people off to Jesus, that the people in our lives outside of our inner circle have no idea we even know His name. We don’t have the “gift” of evangelism. We’d only make things worse. Maybe it doesn’t matter because God’s going to save who He saves, right? I don’t have answers to their hard questions and there’s nothing exciting about my testimony so I’m going to stop sweating it out.

It’s so easy to settle into heart failure.

I’ve been doing it myself, of late. Trying to make peace with giving up on ministries, goals, even some people, in order to buy myself some comfort. But, that’s a god of my own making, don’t you see?

That’s me making an idol of achievement and wanting to let go of all the things God presses me to strive for because it doesn’t look to anyone else as if I have a prayer of success. That’s me jumping on a boat to Tarshish because speaking to the Ninevites looks about as doable as sharing the gospel with the Hamas and walking away with success.

God has been calling me out. Out of my doldrums. Out of my spiritual languishing. Back to my knees. Back into the hard work of hope. Back to the work of being in relationships, not above them. Of being under His authority, not dodging it with religiously-coated excuses.

 Of being a child again with an open heart who dares to hope, to dream, to believe, to invest in others, to risk hurt, to risk skinned knees and disappointments, to try and fail and try again, to worship with my whole life, to love with my whole heart.

He is bringing my heart back into rhythm with His. Through prayer. Through His Word. Through the ministry of other believers willing to speak truth into my life.

And I know that means it’s not time to rest from my labors or to shift into neutral or to walk away from it all. It’s time to trust Him again. To do what He says. To invest in prayer, in His people, and in all those who still don’t know the joy that I know because the days are short and eternity is long, too long not to spend it with Him.

It’s time to refocus on faithfulness, obedience, and faith and remember that results rise and fall, this work has a long season and achievement is something He sorts out when we get home, not something to comfort or puff us up now. He is our comfort – not immediate results, not visible proof, not gratifying returns. Just Him.

After all these years of following Him, it’s humbling to confess how often my hold slips on the things that matter and I look down, thinking how easy it would be to let go. The truth is, He will never let go of me, even when He sees me ready to release my grasp on what matters to Him.

And then I remember I didn’t start this work to see results. I started it because He is about this work and with all my heart, I want to be with Him.

The results may not always be worth the effort, but He is always worthy of all.


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4 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for your honesty. It is refredhing and i needed this! He is sufficient. That is enough.

  2. Kirsten Panachyda says:

    Oh my sister, you are speaking a hard truth to me today. Thank you for reminding me of what know. I also want to be with Him most of all.

  3. Lori says:

    Thank you for this, sister. Amen and amen.

  4. Kim says:

    Oh, wow. I think we have been on a similar path. I wonder if turning 60 has anything to do with it? Thank you so much for the sometimes hard words of encouragement.