Pastoral Reflections- Rev. Mark Keefer, Garwin United Methodist Church Garwin, Iowa
May 24, 2013
Thomas Edison is credited with saying, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” We’ve all hit that bump in the road, a setback, a problem. What matters is how we respond when we hit that bump – do we give up and live a defeated life, or do we believe God can restore us? It could be a school project, a work assignment, or a promise made that could not be kept. We have to remind ourselves that setbacks are temporary, and greater things lie ahead. One of the great stories in the New Testament has to do with Peter. Here was this confident, out-spoken fisherman – the man on whom Jesus had said He would build His church. Peter had promised that he would never leave Jesus’ side, even if all the others deserted Jesus. Peter couldn’t have been more bold and courageous. But Jesus knew that Peter would fall short. He told Peter that, “…you will disown me three times.” (John 13:38) But Jesus also told him ahead of time that failure would not be the end of the story. He said that Peter would stand up again and strengthen the others. There’s a great point to be made here. Jesus pointed out that Peter would fail, but he wouldn’t be a failure. There is an adversary out there who wants us to view our shortcomings as part of our identity, rather than something that has resulted from our actions. The truth is that we belong to God, and our shortcomings can actually prepare us to be used more greatly by Him. How should we react when something doesn’t turn out as we’ve expected. First, step back and look at the situation. Take responsibility for your own actions, and don’t blame others. Then ask for help, both from trusted friends, and from God. A trusted friend is one who is sincerely concerned for your well-being and growth. They will speak to you honestly, yet forthrightly. Don’t worry about being perfect; after all, nobody else is. To triumph over failure, keep in mind that setbacks can be excellent learning opportunities. You can reevaluate your goals, and ask yourself if you had been acting realistically. Failure can be a catalyst that moves us to a whole new vision of what God is doing in our lives. He can utilize our missteps to bring into focus His plans and purposes for our lives. We’ll end up bringing glory to Him, and blessing to ourselves and others. Have a blessed week. See you in church.
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