I’ve been reflecting this morning with the Lord regarding the tendency of humans to focus on the failures they experience in life rather than the victories. A football team, for example, can have a historic game with more yardage, higher passing yards, higher running yards and more tackles than any game in history. Yet, if they lose the game, or if one of the players makes a horrendous mistake, the failure will become the highlight stealing the glory and joy from their accomplishments.
This has been happening to me a little lately. The past week I had a great opportunity to obey Jesus in one of the great commissions he has given to us. It was a challenging task. So challenging in fact that some believers don’t even believe Jesus meant it when he said it. In the end, I failed the one thing I felt I was supposed to do and that seems to be the only thing I can focus on. But, this morning Jesus is showing me all of the positive gains I made on my path to greater faith. In the midst of it, I trusted God to provide for the needs I did not have the resources for. He put gas in truck and food in my belly. I walked in love putting the needs of others ahead of myself and served those in need faithfully. I did all I could to support them. I was even faithful to the Lord’s command to heal the sick and witnessed the power of our Father heal a woman from a severe attack causing extreme kidney pain and vomiting. She was healed right before our eyes as the pain left and nausea stopped. I remember at that moment I had such a confidence in the Word of God and how infallible and true it is. I absolutely knew God wanted her healed and I was not stopping till God’s will was done on earth as it is in heaven.
With all of that happening, as the weekend came to a close I am frustrated with myself and my faith because I allowed fear to erode my belief. I worried about what others might think, I consider what might happen if God didn’t come through. I even heard the devil say, “What if it doesn’t work? Then what?” and I listened to it enough to allow fear to keep from my destiny. That failure has been hitting me hard.
As I read this morning the Lord took me to the story of Jesus walking on the water in Matthew 14. As I read the words of Jesus saying, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” jumped off the page to me. I put the Bible down and began speaking to Jesus about my unbelief. But he showed me the story again. Peter had just walked on water! He knew the words of Jesus were true! He did not doubt them so he said, “Command me to come to you!” and Jesus responded, “Come!” With that, having faith in the words of Jesus, Peter jumped over the edge of the boat. To the amazement of all, and probably his own amazement he actually stood on water. One step, two steps, this thing was actually working. Do I think he was amazed at what he was doing? Yes! Do I think that meant he did not have faith? No! He was applying faith and walking on water. I am sure the disciples were thinking, “DANG! I wish I had that kind of faith! I want to walk on water.” Then, as he walked, Peter began looking at the wind and the waves and fear set in. He started thinking, what if I sink and the storm overtakes me. As those thoughts entered his mind they became bigger than Jesus’ words and he began to sink until he cried out to Jesus, “Save me!” Jesus took his hand, lifts him up and they begin to walk back to the boat. This is where Jesus gives him those encouraging words, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Peter, because is human, most likely started considering his failure. He was not thinking about how he had believed God when no one else did. He was not thinking about how he jumped out of that boat and actually walked on water. All he can think about is how he failed in the finality of the task. He wasn’t able to carry it out to completion.
This is part of the human condition that results from the fall of man. We are full or doubt. We always focus on our failures. Never mind that you set a new sales record last month, you managed to lose your most valued client this month and that is all you can think about. For me, it doesn’t matter that I have seen blind eyes opened, paralysis healed, amazing provision by God the rich supplier of my needs, followed the Lord faithfully, left my career or choose to trust him in all things. None of that mattered in the moment. All I can think about is my failure in the stretch of faith I was called to.
Peter ended up making other mistakes. He argued with Jesus about washing his feet, denied knowing him, and ran in cowardice at his crucifixion. He had plenty of failures to highlight and I am sure that in each moment he felt great discouragement. In fact, Jesus warned him that Satan had demanded permission to sift him like wheat, yet, Jesus had prayed for him that he might turn again to faith and strengthen his brothers. He later went on to perform great miracles, help build the church in Jerusalem and even though he made other mistakes he continued to grow in his faith.
Satan would like to sift us all and he uses our failures to convince us that our identity is failure. We are worthless, good for nothing, and will never get it right. But, today the Lord is saying as he always has, “Dare to believe my words ahead of your actions! Believe what I say about you more than what you think about yourself or Satan accuses you of.” We are called to greatness! To walk in faith, to conquer, to live with Christ in a beautiful overcoming power and to see the Kingdom of God come on earth. It is time to treat our mistakes or failures as nothing more than a bump on the road and keep driving.
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