I know – Failing Forward isn’t a very exciting nor inspiring title to kick off a New Year’s blog. We’ve not even crossed the first month of the new year and we’re talking about ‘failing?’
People look forward to a new year because it presents an opportunity to start afresh on a positive note, a new beginning, much like a ‘reset’ button. Besides, this year isn’t just another new year. It’s the turn of a new decade. It’s the year of moving forward with a ‘20/20 vision’, filled with expectations of what the Lord is going to do.
I started this year experiencing quite the opposite. Things started ‘going south’ as each day passed. The things which I normally do well started to turn on me – I messed up a simple family lunch reservation, used the wrong choice of words to encourage a church member undergoing a difficult time, making decisions and priorities on supposedly straightforward issues that simply don’t make sense at all.
Suddenly, what’s familiar to me becomes strangely unfamiliar! Before you can recover, you make another blunder. Imagine we’re all lined up in our running lanes at the starting block. The gun goes off and every runner is off to a great start, running towards the finish line. You push yourself forward, then slip and tumble to the ground as you watch the rest fade into the distance.
If you’re going through something like this as well, I want to encourage you by sharing what I’ve learnt in the midst of ‘failing forward’.
Search Your Heart First
When things like this happen, don’t play the ‘blame game’ and start pointing fingers at someone else. Hear the counsel from God’s Word in Proverbs 4:23, ‘Guard your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.’
Every issue in life originates from the heart. If your attitude or response is not right or is negative, check your own heart first. The prophet Jeremiah reminds us in Jeremiah 17:9 that ‘The human heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it?’ Only God can, for He searches our hearts and examines every secret motive.
God may be trying to get our attention, and our response to Him should be like David’s in his psalms: ‘Search me and know my heart’ (Ps 139) and ‘Create in me a clean heart’ (Ps 51). Is it any wonder God so loved David and testified of him as a man after His very own heart?
Being Vulnerable is Not a Weakness
I asked the Lord, “What’s this new season or chapter I’m entering?” and I felt the Holy Spirit say, “It’s not a new chapter I’m writing in your life – it’s a new book!”
Now, when you write a new book, you start from scratch – from page one! You have no previous chapters to make reference to. What used to work in the past may not work any more. You can’t build on your past successes.
My only point of reference is Jesus, the Author and Finisher of my faith (Heb 12:2). I’ve to totally rely on Him. I needed to empty myself before the Lord again because what started as placing my confidence in God had subtly become having confidence in myself. It’s a process of learning, unlearning, and re-learning. I’ve to admit it’s humbling but I know it’s good for me and I’m safe in His hands.
Jesus assures us in 2 Cor 12:9 (TPT) that, “My grace is always more than enough for you, and My power finds its full expression through your weakness.” When I’m weak, His power strengthens me. Being vulnerable is not a sign of weakness.
God nurtures us according to the level of consecration we desire and pray for. If He’s turning up the heat in your life, He’s answering the ‘desires of your heart’, purifying and purging the undesirable things from it.
God Responds to Desperation
Acknowledging my vulnerabilities and inadequacies created in me a greater desperation for more of God. I felt a little like Jacob after God dislocated his hip joint: though he walked with a limp thereafter, that weaker leg will always remind him to lean on God.
In Luke 8, there was a woman with the issue of blood. She was desperate, having suffered her condition for 12 long years and spent all her money and life savings on doctors who could not heal her. She pressed in and pressed through the crowd to get her breakthrough. Her desperation and faith caused Jesus to stop where He was heading and commend her. God responds to desperation. This is God’s promise to us, “You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jer 29:13)
Remember – ‘forward ever, backwards never.’ Don’t fail backward – fail forward. Every setback is an opportunity for a comeback. Never give up!
Ps. Kevin Koh