Listening to the murmuring voices down the open stairs, I stared out the window, seeing nothing. Every muscle felt simultaneously leaden and poised to attack. What just happened?
Shock does that.
I watched myself fold into my favorite chair, wondering if this is how it felt to lose your mind. Everything was familiar yet strange, normal but terrifying. Dave’s startling revelation of his moral failure shattered my world.
I had no confident purpose, and nothing would or could ever be the same. Of that, I felt sure.
I wondered how much gas was in the car and how far it would take me.
Like many American Christians, I believed if I did everything the right way, worked hard, went to church every week, read my Bible consistently, and served my family well, God would give me a good life. Up until that day, life was pretty good. Not perfect, but good overall.
But how could this massive failure be good?
It didn’t make sense.
And why me? Why now? Why my marriage and family? What would people think? How could I face anyone again? I convinced myself this porn addiction revelation would destroy everything I loved and held dear. No way could this serve me.
It took quite a while before I understood how this failure would pave the way for a new, confident purpose and passion.
Funny, isn’t it, how we run from failure?
It’s the American cultural way to believe that failure diminishes us. Within the Christian church, moral failure feels especially painful. Instead of finding acceptance and support, we often encounter judgment, rejection, and ostracization.
Like the Church today, the Jewish religious leaders in Jesus’ day projected an air of superiority. They believed that, as Abraham’s descendants, they deserved special treatment and benefits. Yes, God chose Jacob, renamed Israel, to be his chosen people. But that chosenness was meant to bless the world and show others how to find God. Not to cause separation and superiority. It is through Abraham that the Savior would come—Jesus Christ. When Jesus appeared, those leaders didn’t recognize him.
Jesus encouraged us to bring the outcasts, wounded, unloved, and rejected, to him. He told us he came to heal the sick, not the healthy.
Why would he say that?
Jesus brought God’s love, grace, and mercy to us. He knew how desperately we need saving from our human natures. Jesus redeemed our failures, and he understood our weaknesses and pain.
His forgiveness showed us how to change to develop a confident purpose following God’s original design.
If you and I were to judge Jesus’ life based on our cultural definition of success, he’d be an abject failure. His life didn’t make sense. No home, kicked out of communities, hated by the church leaders, hanging out with the wrong crowd, and violently killed for not being politically correct. Not exactly our world’s definition of success.
Yet, in God’s wisdom and desire for our redemption, Jesus completed everything perfectly. Fully alive, he sits at God’s right hand and intercedes for us. God recognizes Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection as payment-in-full for our sins. We get to choose whether we accept this incredible gift or reject it.
What the world deemed a failure, God exalted.
In the next few weeks, let’s look at the purpose of failure and its impact on our lives.
As I worked through the failure in my life, I discovered that my previous view of failure as devastation wasn’t true. God now had my attention. This failure and subsequent healing revealed a heart-wrenching, sweet gift. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, he peeled away the scales from my eyes, heart, and mind so I could experience him anew.
Listen to how Job describes what he learned through his life-altering suffering:
Then Job replied to the Lord:
“I know that you can do anything,
and no one can stop you.
You asked, ‘Who is this that questions
my wisdom with such ignorance?
It is I—and I was talking about
things I knew nothing about,
things far too wonderful for me.
You said, ‘Listen, and I will speak!
I have some questions for you,
and you must answer them.’
I had only heard about you before,
but now I have seen you with my own eyes.
I take back everything I said,
and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.”
God Almighty, YHWH, Creator, Sustainer, Father of the fatherless, Husband, Redeemer, Savior, Spotless Lamb, Gentle Shepherd—this God desires my love, honor, and praise. He rejoices over me with singing. This Abba designed, executed, and completed the redemption covenant before we asked.
As I lay flat on the floor, tears soaking the carpet, I felt his arms lift me to his lap and rest my head against his heart.
Though I felt broken and wounded, God the Father reminded me that he never leaves or abandons me and always does what is best. And this life-altering crisis would bring about his glory, honor, and goodness in my life.
My story isn’t unique because I’m like you—a flawed human trying to understand my purpose and God.
As I spend more time with God, I learn that he turns failure into a confident purpose for his honor. We find new strength when we praise him in the failure and struggle. The more I listen to his shepherd voice, the more joy and peace I experience.
Please reach out if you need to process what doesn’t make sense and find your purpose. I promise to listen to your heart without judgment and provide a safe place.