Have You Hit Your Bottom?

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Luke 22:31, 34

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. 32 But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.”  But Jesus said, “Peter, let me tell you something. Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.”

Last Friday was President Trump’s inauguration and the Green Bay Packers were painfully defeated by the Atlanta Falcons. I have Facebook friends who are outspokenly passionate about both of these things and by 4PM CST yesterday, I had had enough. The political division is exhausting and I, personally, needed to to accept the fate that my dear Green Bay Packers were unlikely to recover from their grave deficit, hence, not going to advance to the Super Bowl. So I decided to lace up and go for a 3 mile run to take in some fresh country air and clear my mind.

As I exited the house I turned to my favorite phone app and found a message from Dr. Tony Evans titled, “Your Experience and Your Destiny.” The title caught my eye and my hope was that it would bring a perspective to my arduous job search and boy did it ever!

Dr. Evan’s was sharing from Luke 22:31-34 and I never saw this perspective before. Jesus says that Satan asked if he could sift Peter like wheat and Jesus plead in prayer for him… He didn’t plea that he wouldn’t fail, because he [Peter] did actually fail by denying Jesus before the rooster crowed for the third time just as Jesus predicted. Instead, what Jesus was praying for was that Peter’s FAITH wouldn’t fail. Now that’s powerful stuff!

This message spoke to me because I ended up jobless as a result of “failing” a series of qualification exams. I saw a parallel to my own life in this passage, as God’s Word often does. Dr. Evan’s goes on to say, “Jesus will let you fail so you understand that you’re not all that, because you think you’re all that, and once you see that you’re not all that, you’re going to repent, because now you have come face-to-face with you, and once you repent then God can use you. One of the reasons that we can’t find our destiny yet, is either we haven’t repented yet or we haven’t hit bottom yet. As long as we walk with pride God can’t use us.”

Boom! This hit me between the eyes. Could God have let me fail because I was (and am) holding on to pride? Humbly, I believe the answer is yes and I know because of it I am of no use to God; I am in my own way. So I’m faced with a decision… either I recognize this, repent and turn to God  – OR – God will let me hit bottom so I have no other place to go EXCEPT to Him.

You see, my faith hasn’t failed me. If anything it has grown stronger. My prayer life is powerful, disciplined and fully engaged. I am spending quality time in his word and am like a sponge taking in all of His promises. I know that he is with me and I have confidence that I will be better for having endured this. I do have a peace that surpasses all understanding and am taking each day one day at a time. I have been able to keep a healthy perspective on my blessings and all that this jobless season is given me the ability to enjoy. But… here is where the devil is alive and active… I find myself praying for a certain type of job, a certain income and a certain title. Instead of praying that He use me, wherever and however he needs me.

My pride is afraid of what people will think. My pride is telling me that I have a master’s degree and shouldn’t settle for just any old job. My pride is telling me that I shouldn’t go backwards on my resume.  Dr. Evan’s said that God gave me gifts and He made me to use those gifts to benefit others, glorify God and impact his kingdom. If they are not doing that, it’s not a destiny, it’s a job and if I am not where God can use me I will never be fulfilled.

As a result of this message, a long run and some soul searching, I have since apologized to God and I am going to remain open to where he is leading me. What is most exciting about this is the anticipation of finding out what He has in mind.

Stay tuned!

P.S. Thank you Dr. Tony Evans!

 

Failure Rocks!

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Okay, I’m being facetious. Failure sucks! It makes you question a lot of stuff. “Am I stupid?”, “Is this REALLY what I’m supposed to be doing?”, “If not this then what?”

It overwhelms you with self-doubt. SELF-doubt. You not only start doubting yourself, your future, but your ability to be successful (at anything), but it draws up emotions – negative emotions – that otherwise wouldn’t have crossed your mind. Failing at something stops you dead in your tracks and spins you into a very unhappy place.  It begins with a pity party and if they devil can get a foothold, it will spiral into full fledged depression.

Why?

Why is really the question that we are seeking the answer to. “Why didn’t this work out the way I planned?”, “Why is this happening to me?”, “Why aren’t things going my way?”, “Why am I, I, I…?”  See the theme? At the center of MY failure (your failure) is something that didn’t go MY (your) way and according to MY (your) plan. Conclusion: Pride was/is the driver.

Does Philippians 2:3 NOT say, “Do NOTHING out of selfish ambition or vain conceit?” God sure has a way with cutting to the heart of it, doesn’t he?

So, here are the real questions that we need to be asking ourselves when we fail. 1 – What is God trying to teach me in this/What have I learned? and 2 – How might I realign my thinking (aspirations, plans, expectations…) to what God wants for me? How can I, do I, should I respond in a God-like way to this unplanned, unforeseen circumstance?

There is so much learning and character development that results from failure when we ponder and pray over these questions and get re-centered on God and His will, His plans and His desire for my life.

When this happens, the second part of Philippians 2:3 comes to the forefront, “but in humility, value others above yourself.” Humility – the exact OPPOSITE of pride.

Here is the takeaway in times of temporary setbacks, unmet expectations, disappointments and trials: Romans 5:1-4: “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Onward Christian soldier! It’s not about you [Me].