Failure. It’s not our favorite word. It’s not what we want to associate with ourselves, our careers, our families, or our lives. Failure feels like a disease that we strive to avoid and just want to stay away.
Last week, my schedule was jam-packed. There was something every single day. I love to be busy, and, if I’m honest, it felt nice to have so many things planned again. Last week, however, didn’t go the way I wanted. My health and body did not cooperate. One by one, I missed being able to attend what sat on my calendar or was forced to cancel it altogether. No big deal, right? It was for my heart. With each passing day, as I could not do what felt so important to me, failure and defeat built a wall in my spirit. I was not only letting others down, in my mind, but I was disheartened over how I felt about myself.
God has been convicting me about the way I define success. He’s been walking through the garden of my heart and plucking out the weeds. This past week, he bent over and found the dandelion of works—again. I am actually somewhat a fan of dandelions. They create beautiful, little flowers. My children often gather them up and bring them to me in a wilted bouquet. When we find a white covered seed head, we carefully pluck it and blow them gently away with a “wish.” Yet, while the dandelion has use—you can even eat the leaves—it is not good to have a yard full. They will completely take over and dominate. One has to be intentional when removing this determined, resilient plant. It will grow anywhere it can take root. Once there, you have to completely get rid of the root to ensure the weed does not return.
Working for the Lord also has its place. Yet, if we are not careful, we can begin to define who we are, ministry, church, and life by what we do. When we cannot perform, then, the wave of failure will take us under. If you’ve ever been caught off guard or misjudged the size of an ocean wave, you know how painful it can be to be dragged across a rough, sandy sea floor. Failure hurts, but what if our pain is unnecessary?
God is not looking at you and I to see how much we have accomplished today. There is no checklist in heaven that says to the stay at home mom: “Got dressed, cleaned, and had dinner for her husband. Check. I love her more today.” The heavens do not declare to the woman seeking to advance her career: “Worked over time, killed the big presentation, still went to her kid’s soccer game. Check. Extra points today.” You and I create the system of what we determine as success for ourselves in our own minds.
Do you know what heaven is focused on? God. His glory. His mission. His plan. We are successful when we choose to exalt God in our own hearts becoming fully yielded to Him in every way. No, we will never be one hundred percent there until we are in heaven forever, but Christ came to be the victory our hearts need. When we seek to work to feel enough, valued, or loved or because it feels good to our flesh, we devalue the rest, peace, and worth the Lord wants to give. We confuse what failure and success mean. Our hearts are what the Lord desires—not sacrifices. I don’t win Him over with how I martyr myself running, working, and serving in my life or in my ministry. Neither do you. His heart is already for us. We are already fully loved—completely.
Are you feeling like a failure? As though all your effort only results in brokenness and disappointment? Today, ask the Lord to show you how you can rest in who He is and how much He loves you right where you are. Allow God to change the way you are thinking and take hold of the truth that He defines you and what your life should look like. Whatever your plans for the day or the week, know that the Lord is ordering your steps. His desire is to lead and mold you more into His image so that others may see Him too. You are loved. Let being in His presence be the new “success” you seek.
“For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” Psalm 51:16-17
“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”
“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26
“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”