Have you ever failed at anything? Have you ever been an epic failure at anything? I sure have. In fact, at too many things I’d care to list. There has been times when I was sure I could do no right, and wrong would’ve been an improvement! There’s been times when I was certain I was useless to God because my failures were so epic I was sure he wouldn’t waste anymore forgiveness on me.
Recently, I was going through such a time and I started thinking about all the people who had epically failed in life, yet God still used them to do mighty things (and this is not an exhaustive list, just a few that came to mind):
Noah. God chose Noah to build and ark to save his family (and certain animals) from the Great Flood which was about to wipe out everyone and everything. The Bible says Noah was a man who walked with God. After the flood had receded, Noah turned into a drunk and possibly committed some type of sexual sin with (gasp!) one of his sons. You want to talk about EPIC FAIL? However, Noah recovered because later the Bible mentions that he became “an heir of righteousness which is according to faith” (Heb. 11:7).
David. From his early days David was defending his flock, slaying giants and gaining a reputation as being one awesome dude. He became a great military leader, composer and eventually king of Israel! Then the next thing you know, he’s hooking up with a married woman. As if that wasn’t enough, he had her husband assassinated, ends up going on the run like a common criminal and his son wanted to kill him! EPIC FAIL! Yet, after all these failures (and there were many more), David was called “a man after [God’s] own heart.” (Acts 13:22).
Simon Peter. Peter was a rough and tumble fisherman when he met Jesus. Simon went on to become a foundation of the early church, a theologian and a missionary. But, on the way to all that respect he earned, Simon committed one of the most epic failures in history: he turned his back on the Son of God, going so far as to deny he ever knew Jesus! But, Jesus didn’t let Peter’s epic failures get in the way of his greater purpose (John 21:15-19).
There’s so many more great men and women in the Bible and outside the Bible who we’d consider epic failures by today’s standards, but whom God went on to use in a very big way. Thinking back on the Bible I can think of stories of prostitutes, idolaters, sex fiends, drunks, devil-worshippers, murderers, theives, liars, and unnaturally short people whom God used to bring fame unto his name.
Without getting into a long wordy lesson, I want to recap what I’ve learned from all this:
1. Everyone fails. There’s no getting around it. It’s just the nature of…us.
2. God’s grace and restorative powers are more epic than the most epic of all our epic failures.
3. Don’t cast aside others just because they’ve screwed up in life. Most of the “great” people of the Bible, who we hold up as examples of great faith and godliness, wouldn’t even be considered for a church janitor job in this day and age.
4. Faith always trumps failure. Every time.