Failure As Necessity

35For just over a month now, I have been leading worship at The Bridge.  To be honest, I forgot how much time and effort go into the preparation for a Sunday morning.  Don’t get me wrong, I love every part of it!  I enjoy arranging and learning songs and then getting to share them with our community.  I have to believe all of you feel the same, otherwise you wouldn’t stick around too long!

Last Sunday I felt something break through.  Not in our ability to play notes well or even our collective sound.  It was nothing technical at all.  As a matter of fact, I felt a bit nervous after our Sunday morning sound check.  There were quite a few rough edges, if I am being honest.  No, it wasn’t a new level of instrument or vocal mastery.  It was something other-than.  It was a spiritual thing.

I believe it was the Holy Spirit at work in our midst.

I felt as though, maybe for the first time since I started, that we were worshiping God as a community.  Together.  Lifting voices and sounds and music and worship that God came and inhabited.  It was a victorious moment for me.  Not one I can claim and not one that you can, either.  It was simply special.  It was simply God in His infinite mercy.

You see, even when things come together and we experience something special with God in the midst of us, we can’t take any credit.  We don’t even want to!

And as I reflected on our time together, I couldn’t help but think how we seemingly limped our way there.  Thursday’s rehearsal was good, but full of unsettled questions and shaky stops and starts.  Sunday morning was more of the same before we began as a community.  And so I thought a lot about the things we deem “successes.”

What I am learning about life in general is this:  nothing good comes without struggle.  Without failure.

Sure, in failure we learn a ton about what NOT to do.  We make corrections and modifications and find ourselves more prepared to face adversity.  We adapt.  We learn.  We become more battle tested.

And, honestly, that’s all a legitimate part of the human experience.  It’s how we grow.

But, I feel like there is much more going on when we fail.  Keeping with the music metaphor, as we struggle through a new song, we stop and we start and we stop and we start again.  Eventually, we feel our way through all the chords and dynamics until we have it down.  That’s all a legit process and we’ll continue it in all areas of our lives as long as we live.

Yet, there is another part to the failure equation.

As we make mistake after mistake, there is a choice we make.  We decide that we will keep ramming our head into the wall, or we will let it go and move on.  Give up.

Those aren’t inspiring words.

Following Jesus is like that, sometimes.  We can make lots of corrections and redirections, but eventually those aren’t enough.  Eventually we have to cede failure and decide that we are spent.  Tired.  Over-wrought.

Sometimes we need to give up.

And when we do, when we let go of our control on the situation, we must humble ourselves at the feet of Jesus.  In this simple – yet profound – act, we find the victory that we so desperately desire.  That victory doesn’t come through our schemes or our techniques.  Instead, it comes in our surrender.  And in that act of surrender, we find Jesus victorious in us.  Through us.

This is why it is necessary for us to fail.  Nothing in us wants to shoot for the bottom or fail on purpose, and no one would advocate that.  Try.  Work.  Improve.  But do all of it with the humility of someone who knows that failure will come, but that failure will only lead to a greater presence of Jesus in our lives.  That, my friends, is a very beautiful and encouraging thing.

I’ve heard the question asked:

What would you do if you weren’t afraid of failing?

I post that to all of us.  What would you try?  What would you attempt to see changed if you knew that failing is simply an opportunity?

I wonder.

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