Don’t fear failure – it’s a gateway to God’s power


2 Cor 12:9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

“We have to train them…to be obedient”, remarked Wes & Anne at different times during our recent weekend visit to meet newborn Abigail.  No, they were not disciplining their four-week old third child.  Five-year old Noah’s tone and two-year old Elizabeth’s deliberate defiance were the presenting circumstances.

“What do you expect from children – it’s up to us to train them!” rhetorically repeated each of these two young parents during the 3 days we spent with them.  Our son then added, “Didn’t you do the same, Mom, with us?”

I had to admit that I failed at Discipline 101 with my sons.  I was a working mom and when I picked them up from daycare or reunited with them after school, I just wanted to enjoy them. I also justified my weakness by reasoning that I was too drained to fight any battles of the will.  So I let a lot of tone and behavior pass.  My husband, when he would catch it, would parent properly.  But I was around the boys more, so they ‘suffered’ from my parenting failures.  Wes, the younger son, showcased his rebellion more blatantly than his older brother who craved approval and strove to be outwardly compliant.  By the time Wes was in second grade, it looked like he was on track to developing into a juvenile delinquent!  Or so I feared.

As these memories zipped back into my conscious mind,  I shared with my daughter-in-law how I wish I could have a ‘do-over’ and parent according to God’s principles, like they were doing.

Her wise reply pointed me back to God:  “But look how both your boys turned out!”  And she is right.  By God’s grace each has grown into a responsible, God-loving man who supports his family and loves his wife and children.  Each is guiding and reinforcing in his little ones the valuable habit of submitting to parental authority, a first step toward the life-giving pattern of obedience toward God.

Pridefully, what I think I wanted was to KNOW that I had parented well, that the ‘good kids’ that I got were a result of MY efforts.

But, if I’m honest, MORE comforting is the fact that when I DO fail, He is there to fix my mistakes and carry out His plan.  It’s never up to me or to you.  Yes, we have responsibilities and we are not to shirk them.  But our failures do not have the last word.

And that is GOOD NEWS!




How to be a little kid in God’s kingdom

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Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14

Two lines of thought occurred to me about this verse.  One springs from the the question:

How do little kids act around a good daddy whom they love?

  • they run to him when he comes in the door
  • they want to hang on him and snuggle up close
  • they trust him
  • they cling to him when afraid
  • they don’t try to impress him, they are totally real
  • they are content just to be with him
  • they don’t fear losing his love
  • and when their daddy has to be stern about something, they take him seriously

The other is this:

How does our daddy train us?

  •  his arms are around us as we swing the golf club those first few times or as we handle a T-ball bat or steady a pistol at first.  It’s totally him, but we are physically and  kinesthetically learning as he guides the motion.

  • And the times we DON”T feel his presence, we’re like the small child jumping off the diving board into the waiting hands of Dad in the pool. He’s got us totally covered and protected even though we’re alone on that board.

Martin Luther cried out to God in a written prayer, deeply desiring His reassuring presence the night before facing the Diet of Worms. this brave child of God knew he was facing death and felt alone.  Here are a couple of excerpts.  The entire prayer can be accessed at this link –   Luther’s prayer the night before

O God, Almighty God everlasting! how dreadful is the world! …. . O God! O God! O thou, my God! help me against the wisdom of this world. . I have no business here . . .  I would gladly pass my days in happiness and peace. But the cause is Thine . .. My God! my God! dost thou not hear? My God! art thou no longer living? Nay, thou canst not die. Thou dost but hide Thyself. Thou hast chosen me for this work. I know it! . .

Lord – where art thou? . . . My God, where art thou? . . . Come! I pray thee, I am ready … O God send help! . . . Amen!

Apparently Luther never FELT God that night but proceeded the next day, nonetheless, to draw a line in the sand and stake his life and beliefs on Scripture.  Was his heavenly Father absent or present with him?  Of course God was there – His nature is to be unchanging and God has promised that He’ll never forsake us.  God’s felt absence was part of His training plan for his servant, Luther.

Like the daddy in the pool, even if we can’t see him, he will NOT let us drown.  We might plunge deeper in the water than our comfort level dictates, but all is under His complete care.

My take-aways?

  • Just stay a child in how we trust and relate to God
  • Expect Him to push us further than we want to go
  • He has already assured the results and invites us to ‘help’ Him just like your son might help you mow the lawn

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