Reflecting upon this blog we’ve written since 2011, I wanted to take a moment to speak into failure. The subjects of failure and obedience have certainly been huge ones for us over the years.
In 2011 when we first moved to Port Elizabeth, we served as part of another place of safety called Zanethemba. It was a dream come true. It was also deeply painful, After one year in SA, we returned to Northern Ireland again, and it all felt very much like failure. We learnt during this time that God is attracted to faith and obedience, not performance. Failure did not mean we’d got it wrong! Each one of you stood with us and prayed for us and supported us during that time (THANKYOU!!!) We learnt through that season, that nothing is wasted with God. As a one-year-old learns to take their first steps, “failure” is simply showing up to both grow and learn. It is an inevitable part of the growth process that we must try to avoid getting stuck in! With our own children, we want them to know our affection – that we are so, so proud of them for even trying. So it is with our heavenly Father.
I glean much comfort from Peter the disciple on this subject of failing well. Peter often spoke impulsively. The epitome of his failure was in Peter’s denial of knowing Jesus, before His crucifixion. I draw a lot of encouragement from the fact that Jesus knew this was going to happen before it ever did. He even hinted at wanting to restore Peter whilst breaking bread in the upper room! God is not disillusioned with our failure because He knows very accurately what is going to happen, before it does. He sees our failures coming. He still chooses us even though He knows exactly how we will fail! As one who has failed many times, and needs rigorous boundaries in place as a result, I am encouraged by this.
After Jesus is resurrected, the angel tells Mary: “Go and tell the disciples and Peter“… God wanted Peter to know that he still gets to be included! Peter had gone back to fish again, but on the banks of his own disappointment Jesus reinstates him. We get to look ourselves in the mirror and say: “yes. that year was particularly messy… but God, you have still called me.”
“Process failure” is a part of growing up, but “sin failure” has to have the dynamic of repentance. I have known both. With repentance and the transforming power of God, sin failure can become (in time) a platform to speak of God’s goodness, kindness and grace. I have had to take responsibility for my own propensity toward sin by turning the opposite direction & putting rigorous boundaries in place. Should a history of sin failure hold us back from our calling and what God has spoken over us? No. God wants to infuse our sin failure with the kindness of His grace, so that even those stories become testimonies of how good He is!
In the Geneology of Matthew Chapter 1 verse 6, God purposefully highlights Bathsheeba as “Urriah’s wife” pinpointing the adultery of David, and highlighting the forgiveness and grace of God. Therefore we too, can repent, choose to believe what God has said about us, clean up our mess by the grace of God and walk shame free! God can still use our testimonies as a platform of overcoming by the redemptive, healing and forgiving blood of Jesus, (and the scandalous GRACE of God!)
In Acts 13 David is referred to as one who “served the purposes of God”. He is not mentioned as an adulterer, murderer or destroyer of families. He was one who fully lived out the purposes of God in his generation. May this truth inspire us to see that God does not cease to be friends with us, whenever we royally mess up. Today, after 3 months in our care, our youngest child was placed into his forever family. Forever changed, forever ransomed and rescued, forever loved by our healing Father God in heaven!
After what has been a 2 year healing and restoration process for me, I am amazed & humbled that God still entrusts these beautiful children into our care. I also know more than I ever did before, that this is our calling. We won’t give up. I would not want to miss out on seeing the Lord Fathering the fatherless, for anything else in the world. Thankyou for standing alongside us and enabling this to happen.