“and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead” Acts 3:15

Why are we so afraid of failure? We take ourselves so seriously. If someone were to try their best to do something great and they failed miserably, what words would we tell them?

“It’s ok.”

“You did your best.”

“Get back up.”

“Don’t expect to be perfect the first time.”

“Get up and try again.”

“Practice makes perfect.”

But do we give that advice to ourselves? Do we give that GRACE to ourselves. I know I don’t. I expect perfection the first time around. If that is not the result. I want to quit. I question everything. I question my calling and purpose. My imagination goes wild. I want to retreat. Hide. Back into a corner. Sit on the bench and watch the game. I don’t want to play anymore. Failure is painful. It’s embarrassing. It feels shameful. One failure feels like a court sentence to losing for the rest of my life.

I do not feel this way in every area when I fail. This feeling of failure comes with the things that I care most about but feel the least able to make happen. When I feel the least capable and have to rely on God’s capability. Stretched so thin, I think I may break and keep going even when there’s nothing left. Not failure with half way effort and small hopes, but the kind where I am all in, all the way. Running that leaves you breathless and spent when you finally stop the race. You gave it all. And it STILL seems like no success.

That’s when its hard. When it didn’t turn out the way you had hoped. When all your plans and dreams seem like they are currently spinning inside of a toilet bowl and about to be flushed. The evidence of the effort is lackluster and disappointing. Think relationships, big dreams, parenting, marriage, job frustration….

You gave so much, there is no way you can imagine giving anymore to start something new or to continue on…

This is when I have to re-examine my view of failure and success. What is failure? What is success? Why do I define those concepts the way I do? Is my view of these accurate?

As I view this scripture in Acts 3:15, this phrase caught my eye and resonated deeply.

“and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead”

The “Author of LIFE” was KILLED.

This stops me dead in my tracks.

The AUTHOR of LIFE allowed himself to DIE.

The one who was capable of the most success in the history of mankind CHOSE TO BE A FAILURE.

The one who is “best” at life succumbed to being completely helpless and marked by the opposite, DEATH.

This maker of life, breath, movement, humanity, God himself, allowed himself to FAIL so that others may SUCCEED.

His EXPECTATIONS were to fail for the sake of success. He submitted his life to a full succession of service, rejection, and death so that success may be available to all. He did this to give life abundantly to humanity. To his beloved.

He died so that we may live, choosing to look like a failure, debase himself from WINNING to LAST PLACE. All for the sake of others.

If I’m going to be honest, in his shoes, I would perceive my life to be a failure. Rejection, service without acknowledgement or acceptance by those served, misunderstood continually by those closet (the disciples), beating, torment, tribulation, isolation from everyone (including God on the cross) and death – that would feel exactly like failure to me.

And when I experience those circumstances in my own life, that is the lense through which I view my life. Failure. Failure. Failure.

But what if Jesus had quit because his life FELT like failure? Because of the things that he knew he would experience? What if he took himself so seriously that he, the Author of life, decided that he was much too good for death?

What if I choose to quit because I believe that failure is much too good for me?

I am so incredibly grateful that he chose to fail.

The difference between Jesus and us is that we don’t know the ending. We do not know when God will “raise us.” Yes, he has raised us from death when we accept him as our Savior but yet there is the messy middle of when he will raise our circumstances as well.

Are we willing to fail for him anyway?

To look like failures in the messy middle?

To continue to be obedient even when it feels like death on the cross?

To continue to be a fool for the sake of serving him?

I think this comes with redefining success and redefining failure.

So that failure feels like success and success feels like life and life abundantly.

He came and failed so that we may have life abundantly.

He came to set captives free.

I think one of the biggest things we are captive to is our perspective.

Our perspective on what is success and what is failure.

Our expectations on who we should be and who God should be in the midst of daily living.

Our lives will always feel like failure if we never let him take ahold of our mind and heart and show us a higher way.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,  neither are your ways my ways,”declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth,   so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9

So let’s redefine failure for a moment.

When we look at Jesus, he seemed to struggle at times but genuinely stay above feelings of failure despite his circumstances. This was because he was able to keep the goal in mind. Yes, hard and difficult things were happening to him. Yet this was not his focus. His focus was always OTHERS and GOD. Therein lies the key. When we always think of ourselves and how we are doing, it will most likely always LOOK and FEEL like failure.

When we keep our eyes on Jesus, the task he has set before us and the good of others, failure looks quite a bit different. In fact, failure begins to look like a stepping stone to success. It can then and only then be viewed as glorious abundance and success as we continually follow in his footsteps.

If you feel rejected, alone, cast down, and trodden…..You are doing better than you think. You are most likely doing amazing! You are walking in the footsteps of Christ. Bearing his cross. Being a fool for the one who was a total fool for the sake of those he loved. This fool was our ever wise, loving, holy, and triumphant king.

Be successful. Be full of confidence. Walk worthy of the one who showed us where true worth lies. Not in success, but in beautiful, significant, daily failure wrapped in fullness of grace and love.

If you would succeed for Jesus, would you also fail for him?

If you would live for Jesus, would you also die for him?

Fail daily. Die daily. It is the only way to truly live.

“I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Phil 1:20-21