Long years back I was sitting in a church service listening to a young preacher. It was the worst sermon I had heard in my life. I was sitting near the front of the church as I normally like to do and I kept wishing that I wasn’t near the front so that I could get up and leave. It was that bad.
As I sat and listened and fidgeted in my mind and judged in my spirit, the Lord said to me, “Cyndy, if I was to ask you to preach a sermon and you knew it would be this bad, would you do it?”
BOOM! Ahhh, yes indeed! We may all be called to obedience that has no guarantee of success!
I realized and saw this clearly at the time and it did indeed change me. The Lord’s query humbled me that day and I grew in awareness that life is about following the Lord and that this is not synonymous with ‘everything will go right and well’. Some times we will muck up badly.
My last biggest muck-up was last Sunday. Just two days ago I was privileged to preach a message at the church where I attend. It went very badly. I was all over the map in terms of content and I wonder how many were wishing they could just leave!
I won’t take our time or energy trying to examine or rehash what went wrong with my message, but I do want to take note of our humanity, our God, the things before us, the failures and the successes of our lives.
My own life, I note, has had much failure. Much failure. The list seems really, really long to me. It is an unaccountable lengthy list, at least to my mind. And then, right alongside it, just as unaccountable, is this list of everything I’ve done right and well.
Now, others may want to flatter me that the list of what I’ve done right has been longer than the list of what I’ve failed at, but I truly am not sure of that. I actually think they are par for par.
There is a cute quote going around the internet that says, “If you want to succeed get on with failing, for failing is the one thing that leads to success.” I think I paraphrased that badly but you get the gist.
The point is, the most common denominator in those who wildly succeed is that they have failed many times in grand fashion. This is my only comfort in the wake of a terrible sermon on Sunday. Thank you God for one more failure (tongue firmly planted in cheek).
Of course, as it dawned on me how badly it had gone I was mortified and embarrassed (and so glad I had not told people to come hear me).
The most interesting thing to me, as I stand back and watch as though a fly on the wall, is how much fun I was having giving that really bad message. I was thoroughly enjoying myself. This is such a strange and hilarious and piteously sad thing.
And I wonder how much we do this generally through life. I mean, how much of our days and years are spent doing something, working at something, going through life in a particular way, that may in fact be a complete botch-up?!
Quite frankly, this kinda freaks me out. My brain will pull all sorts of denial tricks on me, I’ve seen it do it. And I’ve been alongside others who are happily in great denial about seriously bad stuff. It is our fractured reality.
Yet, one thing is solid and sure to me since Sunday just two days ago. I have the deep peace of the Lord that I obeyed and did as I was to do.
As I look back on my life it is this same thing that is constant all along the way. I’ve always lived my failures authentically and honestly before the Lord.
I’m just so glad that I can do this, seriously, and that God is the type of God that welcomes and celebrates us for things far deeper than our successes and our failures. And that, is my big conclusion.
Thanks Lord. You are a sweet-heart.