Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
they shall not hunger or thirst,
neither scorching wind nor sun shall strike them,
for he who has pity on them will lead them,
and by springs of water will guide them
And I will make all my mountains a road,
and my highways shall be raised up.
I am not able to count how many opportunities God has given me and I missed the mark. There is no telling how many tests I have failed to pass. I have, however, gotten back up many times. Believe me, there is no glory in being the guy or gal who constantly fails, in my case, because of an addiction to alcohol. Before you get upset, I am not condemning alcohol as sin. That is not a teaching of the Bible. However, idolatry and drunkenness are. I had completely given myself to it under the guise of control, which anyone with eyes could see was not there. Through all my time covering shame and guilt with a bottle, God was still actively pursuing me. I hated it. I would get drunk, cuss him out and call him a phony. In my completely undeserving state, he showed me mercy, over and over and over again. His love was not offended by my act of blasphemy! Just as Jesus stood silently in front of those who would judge him, the Lord withheld his wrath and offered grace again and again. He does not know how to give up. It is not in his nature. He always finds a way, even when we use the freedom he gave us to choose something other than him. His offense at my sin is overpowered by the love he has for me and the blood of Jesus upon my life. He simply helped me back up and put me back on the path.
I’m not writing this to talk about my repentant heart in each of these failures or my belief that grace is given not only to justify us but enable us to give up the desires of our sinful nature. I’m am writing this to the person who may feel they have lost their calling to ministry or their dream of being a missionary. I’m writing to the person who feels they have been disqualified. Some of you may even be hesitant to share Jesus with those who knew you before your commitment to Christ. Not because you are ashamed of Jesus, only that you are ashamed of what they know you did in the past. Listen, the desire to share the Gospel, or be a minister, missionary, teacher etc. was placed there by God. He put those desires in your heart to glorify him. We are taught in Romans 11 that the gifts and call of God are irrevocable. Meaning, you cannot lose them and they will not be taken away. In Mathew chapter 5, Jesus tells us to let our lights shine so that others can see our good works and glorify the Father. The giftings and talents that God has given you were placed there to shine the light of the Gospel on all around you, no matter your past mistakes. When Jesus died on the cross he said three words that changed the face of the world and humanity. He said, “It is finished.” When you accepted Jesus everything in the past was forgiven and put away. It is finished and over with (for more on that subject read From Mountains to Bullets). What we have to worry about after salvation is working towards being like Jesus. A perfect, sinless man.
Listen, Christians fail all the time. Our old man, even though lifeless (Romans 6), likes to come out of the grave like a walker from The Walking Dead. When you least expect an attack, when you think you’re safe, you succumb to a desire of the flesh, or you act in a way contrary to that which the Bible teaches. Does this mean that you are now accountable for all your sins and God has left you and banished you from the garden? By all means NO! The reason you’re in that fight is the same reason that Jesus died on the cross. He died to free you from the dictatorial reign of sin in your life. When he ascended to the throne he authorized a supply mission and sent the Holy Spirit to empower you and enable your light to burn with nuclear power. Like anything worthy, it takes work and the ability to magnify the positive. In other words, you acknowledge where you need work and the negative things in your life that need to change, but place a greater significance in the good and positive things that have changed since you gave your life to Christ. If you could look back at a picture of your heart, before you knew Christ, I would bet that your heart looks much different today. Even though you still struggle with doubt or loving your neighbor. God has already changed you. He will not stop changing you until you die. He see’s who you are in Christ. He lives to celebrate the good things that happen in your life, whether its overcoming anger or feeding the homeless. He does not live to rub your failures in your face or laugh at you when you fall down. On the contrary, he is all about the opposite when we fail. He is about telling you to keep trying. Telling you to you can make it. Telling you, you’re forgiven go and sin no more. When Jesus said those words to the people he healed, do you really think he thought they would never sin again? He said that to encourage them. To show them another path. One that is free from bondage to sin.
Kris Volloton, one of Bethel’s pastors, says that God doesn’t have a plan for you, he has a purpose (click here for an excerpt of his message on purpose). That purpose might have 10,000 plans. If you mess one up, God has a backup. If you mess that up, he has a back up for the backup. He has an eternal backup plan and you can still have a part to play. You were created with a purpose. You have a destination, i.e. perfection in Christ. Just like the GPS in your car, if you make a wrong turn God will re-route you. He will not stop re-routing you unless you shut him out. Even then, just like me, he will come back for you.
You are worthy. You are a son/daughter of God. Ask our Father to help you fulfill the dreams and desires he placed in your heart. I’m telling you, your mistakes, though heart crushing, will be used by God to shape your life and maybe even lead another to Jesus. Don’t lose hope because you fell off the path. When one path falls, another rises. The blood of Jesus is what qualifies you. He works “all things for the good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28). Don’t forget it.