Failing stinks. I really don’t like it. It frustrates me. I feel like I get stuck you know, like spinning tires in mud – as if I can’t move forward again. My gears get all gummed up with self-pity. What is truly sad is that I would rather sit in my own self absorbed troubles than try to take the next step to get back up again.
Can you relate? Thought so! We all face failure. And it comes in all sorts of flavors, from business decisions, raising kids, managing conflict in a marriage, or a failure between us and God (sin). We all face them. What becomes critical is acknowledging that failure is not final.
The Ford Motor Company had a car that I never new existed before this week. It was called the Edsel. It promised to be the car of the future but ended up being one of Ford’s biggest failures. What made the difference for the Ford company was their perspective on the failure. Ford management understood the valuable truth that failure is not final. A study was done out of the failed Edsel into the lifestyle of Americans which resulted in the Thunderbird, one of Ford’s great successes!
Failure is not final. Rather, failure is the opportunity for greater learning and deeper discoveries. But it takes the right perspective. That is where I struggle. Self-pity clouds that perspective from shining through. Perspective is huge!
Asaph leaned that lesson! As one of the writers in the book of Psalm, he begins the 73rd chapter in a sort of self-pity perspective. He’s looking on at the unrighteous and how they are succeeding, never getting the punishment the actually deserve. Halfway through the chapter, though, he seems to change his perspective. He begins to speak with the right perspective and his whole demeanor changes. Check it!
Nevertheless I am continually with You; You have taken hold of my right hand. With Your counsel You will guide me, And afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Asaph has a praise party
What started out as a pity party turned to a praise party! Asaph acknowledges several huge elements that I really need to remember (that we all need to remember!)
First he reminds himself that he is continually with God. He is never outside of God’s presence. That is comforting all in itself. Nothing happens outside God’s purview.
He writes that God has take a hold of his right hand. This is not a slight to lefties. God is not partial to right handed people. The right hand signifies strength. God is there to help us stand back up when we need it!
Asaph notes that God provides counsel and guidance when we need it and fills us so that we don’t desire anything else. That word desire is not like a I desire a cup of coffee, but it is what I take my delight in. It’s what pleases me. In other words, Asaph openly states that God is the only thing that truly pleases him. That’s a great place to be isn’t it???
He finally writes that even though his flesh and heart may fail (There’s that dreaded word!) God remains the strength of his heart and everything he needs.
Strength of my Heart
“Strength of my heart.” That is an interesting phrase. Pondering on it takes me to times when failures left me having such a deep sadness in my heart. And it feels like I’m stuck, like I can’t go forward or backward no matter how hard I try.
And that’s the way it’ll be , so long as I have the perspective that failure is final. But failure is not final. And praise God it’s not. We may not run a motor company like Ford, but we can learn from their example and what God is telling us through the words of Asaph.
We have a choice!
We can choose the perspective. When Asaph shifted his perspective he was reminded of all the benefits he has of following after God. And we can do the same thing! When we fail, it is not final. We can choose the perspective away from self-pity and the false finality of failure to one that seeks what we need from God and ask him to teach us through the failure. God truly uses all things, including our failures, to teach us, to grow us, and to help us become more like Jesus. But we have to be obedient to what He wants to do inside us. That’s our responsibility. We have to respond obediently to Him. God will do His part, but we need to do ours!
And when we do, we discover a deeper relationship with our Savior in the midst of any failure we face! The choice is ours to make! Which one we choose makes all the difference!
So…what’s it gonna be???