When We Fail
My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26
In Profiles in Courage, John F. Kennedy wrote about George W. Norris of Nebraska, who began his career as a country teacher on the plains of Nebraska. He became a small-town lawyer, then a local prosecuting attorney and judge. In 1903, he entered the U.S. House of Representatives and was later elected to the Senate. Norris was a Republican who took up unpopular causes and fought uphill battles. Near the end of his career, Norris told a friend, “It happens very often that one tries to do something and fails. He feels discouraged, and yet he may discover years afterward that the very effort he made was the reason why somebody else took it up and succeeded. I really believe that whatever use I have been to progressive civilization has been accomplished in the things I failed to do rather than in the things I actually did do.”1
Avoid the temptation of judging others when they fail. God often uses our failures to train us for future opportunities.
Sometimes our failures even become stepping stones of success for others.
I would rather go down to my political grave with a clear conscience than ride in the chariot of victory. Senator George W. Norris
Held by the Grip of God
I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. —Philippians 3:12
Never choose to be a worker for God, but once God has placed His call on you, woe be to you if you “turn aside to the right hand or to the left” (Deuteronomy 5:32). We are not here to work for God because we have chosen to do so, but because God has “laid hold of” us. And once He has done so, we never have this thought, “Well, I’m really not suited for this.” What you are to preach is also determined by God, not by your own natural leanings or desires. Keep your soul steadfastly related to God, and remember that you are called not simply to convey your testimony but also to preach the gospel. Every Christian must testify to the truth of God, but when it comes to the call to preach, there must be the agonizing grip of God’s hand on you— your life is in the grip of God for that very purpose. How many of us are held like that?
Never water down the Word of God, but preach it in its undiluted sternness. There must be unflinching faithfulness to the Word of God, but when you come to personal dealings with others, remember who you are— you are not some special being created in heaven, but a sinner saved by grace.
“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do…I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).
It is impossible to read too much, but always keep before you why you read. Remember that “the need to receive, recognize, and rely on the Holy Spirit” is before all else. Approved Unto God, 11 L
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