There are consequences to our failures. I wish it weren’t true, but there are. David became vividly aware of the consequences of his failure: the child born to Bathsheba died and David’s family was broken.
I really don’t want to admit it but there were very definite consequences to the failure I wrote about yesterday. It took a great deal of time for life to once again resemble a sense of normalcy and to regain much of what was lost.
So I read this story of David with a sense of hope. I want to anticipate that God is still for David – that he remains a “Man after God’s own heart.” It’s exciting that even in the midst of the consequences of David’s failure God speaks a word of promise into David’s life: “The Lord has removed your sin…you won’t die.” (2Samuel 12:13) What a word of hope! Yes, there are consequences. Yes, those consequences may be horrific and devastating. But there is hope.
Failure can potentially anchor us down and paralyze. Or, the failure can be a springboard. I’d like to think that even when we fail, we can fail forward. Here are some thoughts about failing forward that I learned.
Get up! Failure can quickly move to depression. Force yourself up and out the door.
Stay connected with the people who still love you. You’d be surprised at the people you thought were friends who now want nothing to do with you. Stay close to the people who stay with you.
Stay connected with God. That can be tough especially when you think that God let you down. I dropped out of worship for awhile. I was mad at God. Through the gentleness of leaders and friends in my life I found my way back to worship.
After awhile, start to dream again. By nature I’m a dreamer. I am always thinking about future possibilities. After the failure I could not dream. I really didn’t care much about dreams. Why dream? Those dreams will just fall apart.
It wasn’t until I realized that my dream of reaching unchurched people didn’t fall apart that I was able to move again. You see, what I thought was a failure – a new church start that wasn’t allowed to move beyond reaching a handful of unchurched people – was a springboard for doing ministry in a secular culture. Immediately, God moved me to hospice ministry. It was there that I was able to connect to and offer hope and transformation to hundreds of unchurched people, who at a crisis moment, were very interested in God. Finally, I was able to start dreaming of a future of possibility.
Often the enemy shows us our shattered dreams and says, “Why keep going? You’re just a failure.”
God’s the one who removes the past and begins to do a new thing. Let him.