Tag Archives: failure

Judges 19-21; Obedience and Failure

Have you ever felt led by God to do a hard thing, prayed about it, obeyed His leading, only to fail? What do you do about that?

The men of Israel felt led to go to war against the tribe of Benjamin because of the grievous sin that tribe had committed. But even though the Israelites got the go-ahead from God, the tribe of Benjamin routed them. 22,000 Israelite soldiers died that day.

But the men of Israel encouraged one another and again took up their positions where they had stationed themselves the first day. (20:22)

They wept, and prayed, asking God if they should continue to go up against Benjamin. God said, “Go.” And 18,000 more Israelites died in that second battle.

So all the people went to Bethel, weeping, fasting, praying, making sacrifices and offerings. “God,” they asked, “should we fight our brother or not?” God assured them the victory.

They obeyed God even after two disasterous attempts. And they soundly beat Benjamin’s tribe.

Sometimes we might think if God is in it, we ought to have victory. If God prompts us to talk to someone about Him, we ought to see that person repent. If God leads us into a new job, we ought to have success.

Can God nudge us toward failure? He did here in Judges.

I guess I take from this the idea that our obedience is the most important thing. Not the outcome of our obedience. The question isn’t, am I successful, but am I obedient?

If God is in it, failure shouldn’t be the final act. The Israelites went to war three times before they saw a victory.

I figure obedience is my responsibility. I’ll let the outcome up to God.

Genesis 29-30 A Test Of Character

Years ago I was shopping with my sister and her young son, who was probably three or four at the time. It had been a long day, and he’d missed nap time. We walked into one store and he immediately started to cry. He’d seen something he wanted and his mom said no.

I know you know where I’m going with this. Bear with me.

She took his hand and started to walk, but he cried a bit louder. Then louder still. She knelt in front of him to help him understand why she’d said no. But the more she talked, the louder he got until his crying became full blown screaming.

If you’re a parent you probably relate. Shopping with a tired three year old isn’t always easy.

Makes me think about the reaction of so many college kids to President Trump’s election, or the juvenile protests by way too many adults. (really, Hollywood? Don’t make movies for eight years. Most of us won’t miss you. And besides, your greed and egos won’t let you stay away eight minutes, much less eight years)

But here I am throwing stones when I need to take care of a plank in my own eye. How do I, as a Christian adult, react to failure or disappointment, or to someone else’s opinion? How I answer that reveals so much about my character before God and man.

Say what you will about Jacob, he demonstrated some pretty solid character when Laban pulled the old switch-er-oo on his wedding night. Waking up next to Leah must have been a shock. Disappointment? Betrayal? At the very least.

But we don’t read that Jacob threw a fit, or rallied his friends to destroy property, or hid in his tent in a fetal position and sucking his thumb. We see Jacob go to his father-in-law and talk man to man. We see Jacob voicing his frustration, turning around and doing what he had to do in light of the circumstances. It set him back another seven years. Yet Jacob’s handling of his disappointment in this situation has him passing the character test in my book.

It’s unrealistic to insist you always get your way, or that everyone should agree with you, or that things should always be fair. You will fail. People will disappoint you. Someone will cut you off in traffic.

Dear one, you aren’t three any more. Don’t react like you are. As a Christian, you represent Jesus to a world that needs to see Him in you. And they are watching to see if your reactions to failure or disappointment looks any different than theirs.

I have to confess that during my nephew’s tantrum in the store that day, this aunt quietly walked away, putting some distance between me and the noise, and pretending I was interested in the jewelry display.

I’m reminded that Thomas Edison is reported to have said that he found 10,000 ways how NOT to make a lightbulb. I’m sure he was disappointed 10,000 times. But he kept working toward the goal. I’m glad he didn’t throw a tantrum and quit after his first try… or his 9,999th.

I want to keep working toward my goal, too. I don’t ever want my actions to cause anyone to want to put distance between them and me, between them and Jesus because of me. I want to surrender my character to Jesus, to become that new creature He says I can be. I want to handle failure and disappointment and reveal the kind of character that will draw people to their Savior.

Father, I thank you for the convicting work of Your Holy Spirit as I read Your Word. I don’t always react to bumps in the road in ways that honor You. Sometimes I reveal a weak character when I throw a grown-up tantrum that looks very much like a child’s. God, I surrender my life, my thoughts, my actions, who I am, to You and ask You to mold me into a woman of Christ-like character. May people see Jesus in me in every circumstance. And may they be drawn to You by my example. For Jesus’ sake.

 

 

Plan A

Did you ever work toward a goal but have things turn out differently than you had imagined? In Genesis 29 we see that Jacob worked for seven years to marry Rachael only to wake up one day and realize he’d married her sister Leah instead. Oh, he eventually married Rachael but it took seven more years to seal the deal. Jacob was blessed with twelve sons as a result of his marriages and the Twelve Tribes of Israel were established through him. But it wasn’t exactly Jacob’s Plan A.

It was, however, God’s.

If Jacob had gotten his way and married only Rachel we might be talking about the Two Tribes of Israel. If he had harbored resentment, or gone back to Isaac with Leah and pouted about not getting what he wanted, who knows what would have been the result. Instead Jacob accepted the roadblock and went back to work. And God blessed him for it.

What do you do when your plans and dreams take a detour? Do you give up? Do you waste time with anger and resentment? Do you play the blame game? Or do you thank God for the detour and get going again? Not all our goals are from God. And if he puts a roadblock in our way or shuts a door in our face to prevent us from succeeding at that thing, he does it out of love. 

I think God would have me see that he is interested in our journey as much – or maybe more than- reaching our goal. And on this journey he wants to bless us, to bring us joy, to use us to demonstrate his love. That’s why I pray that if what I am doing is not his will, he will put up that roadblock, that I will fail. And if it is from him, that he would bless it and bring about his goal. I’d rather have his Plan A fulfilled in me than my own Plan A… or B… or C… if God isn’t in it. 

God, I thank you for having a plan for my life. I know that the bottom line is that you want to use me to draw unsaved people to the Savior. So Father, I pray that you will make your will known, that I will recognize the stop signs and detours, and that I will be faithful to walk where you want me to go. I want your Plan A to be mine.