Failure before Restoration

MIRROR, MIRROR –  FAILURE BEFORE RESTORATION – SERMON RESOURCES

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ENGAGING THE PRACTICAL TIP

Have you every found yourself fudging something (a deadline, a follow-up, a task)? Have you ever embellished an achievement in order to make yourself look better? How about a lie or a lie of omission to excuse your behavior, a failure to complete a task, or as an excuse for your less than stellar work? Exaggerated your job title or responsibilities? Took credit for a shared accomplishment or a lucky win?

We all face same temptation, the invitation to trust ourselves instead of God. Trust your wealth. Trust your power. Trust your authority. Trust yourself. The Satan sets up this dichotomy (trust yourself or God) by suggesting that you alone know yourself best. You alone know what you are capable of. You know what you can do accomplish, so lean in, the Satan suggests. He continues the temptation by planting seeds of fear, uncertainty, and doubt by suggesting that since you don’t know what God will do, it’s better to trust yourself instead. Especially since, according to the Satan, God will lead you astray. This was the same lie that the Satan told our ancestors in the Garden of Eden. Don’t trust God. Trust yourself.

In spite of his power, authority, ability to create security and wealth, Jesus puts all of that aside and decides to trust God. Jesus is indeed instructing us here. Learn to trust God for everything. Everything.

This is really hard to do . So many things conspire against us including ourselves and the situations in which we find ourselves. I believe our first step forward is the same that it was for Jesus, learning to rely on God’s word, learning to have confidence in God’s faithfulness, learning to trust ourselves to God’s care and provision.

When we live in a culture of scarcity, then we only have our one shot, if we blow it, that’s it. It’s over. There is an often repeated mantra, “opportunity only comes around once.” But that’s not true. When there’s too much pressure to get it right, to do it right, we can become paralyzed from acting and trusting a God who has limitless resources. This is why we so often find our hands closed around what we have, hoping that it will bring us safety and security.

We have to follow Jesus into the unknown and trust that the God that Jesus completely trusted, and was made secure in his love, and was willing to follow, even though that path led to death on a Roman cross. This God, that he called Father, is always good and beautiful, never cruel, capricious, or selfish.

This starts with our willingness to confront our false self, our fears and our failures. We must own our failures and mistakes so that we can learn and grow. It’s what we see in Peter’s unfolding story. Sometimes he gets it right and sometimes he doesn’t. The thing that Peter assures us of is Jesus will never condemn us.

Remember that “Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.”

When we deny our stories, they define us.

When we own our stories, we get to write a brave new ending.

When we push down hurt or pretend that struggle doesn’t exist, the hurt and struggle own us.

PRACTICE SELF COMPASSION

Take a moment and write down what you might be fearing, or places where in the past you have failed. Now the key is to evaluate those fears or failures that have prevented you from trusting God or taking a next step in your faith journey. Are you willing to present them to God? Are you willing to trust him with them? As you are sharing your failings with God, imagine a dear old friend who you care about deeply, came and shared those same failings with you, how would you respond to them? Treat yourself in the same way.

Feel free to share your experience with others who have also tried this prayer exercise by commenting below or emailing: spiritual.practices@annarborvineyard.org.

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