Peace for Failure

27 Apr

Pounce bw

The environmental buzz word in the 1970’s was ecology. Decades of do-as-we-will left rivers and lakes polluted, landfills oozing nastiness, and roadsides sprinkled with trash.

I convinced four girlfriends to forego our social club to pitch-in and help eradicate this evil. Snoopy and Johnny Horizon motivated us. We sent for the Clean Up America kit, learned the song, and The Litter Gitters took on trash.

Pogo was another champion for ecology. Pogo’s creator, Walt Kelly tweaked Commodore Perry’s victory statement at the Battle of Lake Erie:
“We have met the enemy, and they are ours.”pogo_earthdayYesterday I ran into this quote twice. I take notice of freaky repetition like that.

The first time was in the morning while I was reading John 16:31-33. The second was while reading Invitation to a Journey, by M. Robert Mulholland, Jr. late last night.

John 16:31-33

Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

The context for John 16 is after Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem and before his arrest that night in the garden. Jesus let the disciples know ahead of time that they would all desert him. He didn’t scold. He didn’t shame them. In fact, the reason he brought it up was to encourage them.

He tells them these things so in him they may have peace. PEACE.

Jesus says that he knows they (we) are going to fail, but that it’s going to alright.

He doesn’t excuse their abandonment (sin), but before it even happens, he lets them (us) know there is grace for failure.

As I contemplated all this, Pogo’s quote came to mind. (More like crashed into my thoughts with combat boots on, actually.) Often, I am my worst enemy. Especially when I hang on to my failure when Jesus has extended grace.

Mulholland’s use of Pogo’s quote explains further (pages 37-38, emphasis mine):

If, indeed, the work of God’s formation in us is the process of conforming us to the image of Christ, obviously it’s going to take place at the points where we are not yet conformed to that image. This means that one of the first dynamics of holistic spiritual formation will be confrontation. Through some channel– the Scripture, worship, a word of proclamation, the agency of an unbeliever– the Spirit of God may probe some area in which we are not conformed to the image of Christ. That probing will probably always be confrontational, and it will always be a challenge and a call to us in our brokenness to come out of the brokenness into wholeness in Christ. But it will also be a costly call, because that brokenness is who we are.

Sometimes we suffer under the illusion that our incompleteness, our brokenness, our deadness is something like a sweater that we can easily unbutton and slip off. It is not that easy. Our brokenness is us. Like Pogo, “we have met the enemy and he is us.” This is what Jesus indicates when he speaks about losing yourself. That in your which has not yet been conformed to the image of Christ is not a simple “thing” in you– it is an essential part of who you are.

To quote one more source:

Failure doesn’t phase you.
Worry doesn’t win.
Lost doesn’t leave you afraid to start again.
Our sin doesn’t shock you.
Our shame doesn’t shame you at all.
Mistakes do not move you.
Terror doesn’t tame.
Death doesn’t doom you to life in the grave.
Our suffering doesn’t scare you.
Our secrets won’t surprise you at all.
At all.

There is nothing above you.
There is nothing beyond you.
There is nothing that you can’t do.
There is no one beside you.
There is no one that’s like you.
There is nothing that you can’t do.
Whatever will come, we’ll rise above.
You fail us not, You fail us not.
No matter the war, our hope is secure.
You fail us not, You fail us not.
You fail us not.

——————–

Ready for Sunday

If my failure doesn’t phase Christ, if I have asked for his forgiveness, why does my failure get in my way?

Jesus was concerned for his disciples (and us) so intensely, that even as arrest and death on the cross loomed in the immediate future, he makes sure to give them the info they will need to get through the next couple of days without him: they will fail, and he gives peace even in, especially in, failure.

How can we be sure?  He has overcome the world. The one who rose from the dead is the one who promises peace. The evidence points to his ability to make it so.

Leaders, I think, beat ourselves up worse than believers in the congregation. We should know better. How did we not see warning signs of danger? How can we go on stage after creating such hurt and messiness?

Because we are no worse or better than anyone else. And because he gives peace.

I am losing myself in him.

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