The Christian life is depicted by a race. Paul rejoiced that he finished the race well (2 Tim. 4:7). Someone cut in on the Galatians and shoved them off the track (Gal. 5:7). The writer of Hebrews exhorts his audience to run the race with endurance (Heb. 12:1). We also discover that a person can disqualify themselves from the race (1 Cor. 9:24-27).
Over the last three decades, I’ve watched Christians, including servants of God whom the Lord used mightily, start the race out powerfully, even burning up the track, only to disappear from it years later. I was in Alabama recently speaking to a group of young Christians, and I talked about the three main reasons why countless Christians end up walking off the track. One of the reasons (as I shared with the group) is the inability to survive failure.
The track is littered with the carcasses of those who couldn’t survive failure, so they threw in the towel and disappeared.
I went on to give Peter as a witness of a person who believed, obeyed, and preached the explosive gospel of the kingdom, yet he knew the depths of failure. Peter betrayed his Lord at Jesus’ darkest hour. Not once or twice, but three times. Yet a few days later, Jesus commissioned Peter to feed His sheep, without uttering one word about his failure. And it was Peter who ended up opening the doors of the kingdom to both Jews and Gentiles.
Years later, Peter failed again, provoking Paul to rebuke the great apostle to his face (see Galatians 2 for the story). And according to church history, Peter left the city of Rome to avoid persecution until he saw the Risen Christ in a vision. As he beheld the risen Jesus, Peter asked, “Where are you going, Lord?” The Lord responded, “I’m going to Rome to be crucified again.” Peter immediately turned around, went back into the city, and was crucified for his Lord.
Think. The man who is universally known as the greatest of all the apostles failed. More than once. But he knew the secret of surviving everything, even failure.
Each one of us is a cargo ship load of failures. But the question before all of us is this: can you survive your failures? Those who know the depths and heights of the Lord’s kingdom have received the mercies of God to survive every obstacle, including failure.
How to Live by the Indwelling Life of Christ
Ignore this if you’re not interested, but some of you asked when registration to my discipleship course opens again. Registration for the Living by the Indwelling Life of Christ course is now open until Tuesday April 11th. It only opens three times a year. Go here for details and complimentary samples.