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Archive for August 27th, 2020

Failure

Meditation

Written by John Ortberg, a contemporary pastor and author.  This is an excerpt from his book “If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat.”

As a result of seeing the wind and giving in to fear, Peter began to sink into the water. So here is the question: Did Peter fail? Failure is not an event, but rather a judgment about an event. Failure is not something that happens to us or a label we attach to things. It is a way we think about outcomes.  Before Jonas Salk developed a vaccine for polio that finally worked, he tried 200 unsuccessful ones. Somebody asked him, “How did it feel to fail 200 times?” Salk replay, “I never failed 200 times in my life. I was taught not to use the word ‘failure.’ I just discovered 200 ways how not to vaccinate for polio.” Was Jonas Salk a failure?  Did Peter fail? 

Well, I suppose in a way he did. His faith wasn’t strong enough. His doubts were stronger. He took his eyes off of where they should have been. He sank. He failed. But I think there were 11 bigger failures sitting in the boat. They failed quietly. They failed privately. Their failure went unnoticed, unobserved, uncriticized. Only Peter knew the shame of public failure. But only Peter knew two other things as well. Only Peter knew the glory of walking on water. He alone knew what it was to attempt to do what he was not capable of doing on his own, then feeling the euphoria of being empowered by God to actually do it. Once you walk on water, you never forget it—not for the rest of your life. I think Peter carried that joyous moment with him to his grave.  And only Peter knew the glory of being lifted up by Jesus in a moment of desperate need. Peter knew, in a way the others could not, that when he sank, Jesus would be wholly adequate to save him. He had a shared moment, a shared connection, a shared trust in Jesus that none of the others had. They couldn’t, because they didn’t even get out of the boat.

Prayer

Written by William Barclay (1907-1978), a Scottish author, radio and television presenter, professor of Divinity, and minister in the Church of Scotland.

God, keep us and strengthen us by your grace that no disobedience and no weakness and no failure may stop us from entering into the blessedness which awaits those who are faithful in all the changes and the chances of life down even to the gates of death; Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen.

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