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Living Beyond Failures Get Up and Change the World for God
Tamara Van Hooser
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We human beings have a tendency to beat ourselves up with guilt, recrimination and bind ourselves into a state where we are constantly trying to make up for our failings, but all the while not truly believing we can ever succeed because we convince ourselves that we are beyond help and hope, undeserving and incapable of change when we aren't as faithful to God's commands as we could be--that is completely non-productive and actually the opposite of true humility. It is denying the power of God to transform us, grow us and work in us regardless of our own shortcomings. It keeps our true potential in Him and the gifts He is offering us at bay, where we don't really have to undergo the discomfort of soul searching surrender. We keep God on the sidelines, as an emergency backup but don't ever let ourselves experience the full measure of the blessings He wants to bestow on us because of an excess of false humility and self-denigration.
I recently heard a message from Pastor Daniel Brown, of Commended to the Word. Pastor Daniel was my pastor while I was in college--over 20 years ago. He is very Spirit-blessed teacher, God-gifted with the ability to cut through the PR agendas of traditional lines of thought on most any issue or Scriptural interpretation based on religiosity rather than the person and character of God to give sparkling clarity in practical applications of the Word to our lives, individually and collectively. He was speaking on Abraham in Genesis 13 when Abraham had turned aside from the land that God had given Him, ending up in the 0wron)g place, physically and spiritually. (Commended to the Word: "Dig a Well to the Left or to the Right": Dr. Daniel A. Brown: 2008) Not because he was humbling himself before God and crying out for mercy but because He was feeling sorry for himself, having a woe is me, pity party, I am doomed, the sky is falling, the world is ending, look at my noble sacrifice moment. God looks at him laying in the dirt there (and I can just see Him sighing-lovingly-and shaking His head in disbelief as parents do when children do something particularly ridiculous and nonsensical, pointless or unnecessary to accomplish their goals, the "I told you so, what do you think you're doing" or "are you done yet, can we move on?" look, whenever you're done with the dramatics, we can get on to solving the real problem, you just let me know when this stops being fun for you. ) So God, in essence, tells Abraham, (Genesis 13:14-17) "Get up, what do you think you're doing down there? "Get up, look around at this land I have promised you and get back to work. What makes you think that My will depends on anything as pathetic as you" [or I daresay, myself or any of us for that matter]? I gave you a job to do, now get up and do it. From wherever you are, wherever you have strayed, GET UP, stop feeling sorry for yourself and do what I commanded you to do in the first place. (paraphrase) If you are really sorry for your sin, SHOW me by doing what I command starting today. You can't change the past but "go and sin no more", make the change starting TODAY and follow the path NOW. Leave the past behind. I am God of the now and I will still accomplish what I have set out to accomplish, I will keep my promises with or without you but life will be much better for you if you get with the picture, leave the past behind because I've already taken care of that on the cross. Let your guilt, shame and self-pity go and take hold of what I am giving you TODAY and the places that I am bringing you to, to bless you and your descendants." Well, He didn't mention the cross to Abraham since it hadn't happened yet. But you get the idea--that is true for us today.
The point is that God is always ready and willing to give us second, third, fourth and hundredth or thousandth chances to come back to Him. Yes, there are consequences to straying. But just as parents punish their children for misbehavior, we never repudiate them entirely or give up on trying to raise them to be godly men and women who are" respectful, responsible and a joy to be around." (Love and Logic Institute: Jim Fay) We deliver the discipline and then let them try again because we love them and know they will only learn by experience. God does the same with us.
Again with Abraham: His impatience and lack of faith in God's promise to provide a son brought him to the point of the Hagar-Ishmael saga which brought endless grief and trial in his own family and the consequences of that ancient choice, still affect the whole world today with the descendants carrying on chronic war in the Middle East. In spite of Abraham's attempt to usurp God's plan and bring the promise to fruition by his own devices and the ongoing consequences that has brought (which God does not try to set aside or protect him from), God still gives him the second chance through Isaac and brings about the promised blessing for all the earth. It took Samuel four times to realize that God was speaking to him as a child and respond properly but when he did God blessed him with great ministry for the rest of his life. It took Jonah three days in the belly of a great fish to concede that He should do things God's way and get back on His path; and God blessed that second time around obedience with a great repentance and revival in a very evil place. God does that with us too. We have to live out the consequences of our choices. But we have the assurance of knowing that to wherever our mortal feet and minds have misdirected us, God sees us and is sufficient and faithful to wipe away the sins of our past and bring us into the fullness of what promises and plans He has ordained for each and every one of us.
I read the back of a book cover once that had a quote from a famous theologian. (I don't remember which one) I may not have it verbatim, but the gist of it was "How can I know if I have accomplished everything that God put me on earth do do? Answer: If you are still breathing, you haven't!" So as long as I am alive, I have a responsibility to seek out whatever tasks that God has set for me to do and allow Him to bless me and others through me by being whatever small cog in His grand plan that He gives me the privilege of being without getting mired down in self-doubt and recrimination for past or current sin or ability or lack of worthiness or talent. If He asks me to do it, He will give me the strength and resources to do it….I just have to set my hand to the wheel and get moving, trusting that He will make it happen because He is that good, not I. "It is not I who live, but Christ lives in me…."
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