It’s not a secret: We don’t like failure. We like success. We crave it. We pine after it. We look for security, identity and even salvation in it.
Whatever the foundation for our search of a pristine resume complete with shelves full of accolades, we all have that numbing ache to do well with and be excellent in each and every endeavor we take on.
In our addiction to success, we shy away from any activity or long-term discipline where the chance of failure is greater than that of a spotless performance. With hyper-vigilance, we monitor the discrepancies that lie between joy-filled reward and heartache-laden risk. After all, the feelings of success are warm and sweet while the feelings of failure are cold and bitter.
When it comes to each of our spiritual journeys, this potent aversion to failure can keep us from dedicated time with God, ingesting His Word and communing with Him to avoid the all-consuming waves of disgust that batter us when we miss one, 10 or 68 days of Bible reading.
We develop a consistent inconsistency, frequent infrequency and firm commitment to being noncommittal for fear of being labeled “fake” or “disingenuous.” After all, if we know we’re going to fail, why even start?
Each year when March arrives, we look at the calendar and all we see is another year of incomplete goals and short-lived promises. Of course we know we need to pray more. We know we need to spend more time feeding on God’s Word. But in our shame, the weight from our lack of discipline breeds sorrow instead of perseverance, insecurity and shame instead of assurance and comfort.
When we’re alone with God we seem to hear more shouts of condemnation than shouts of deliverance (Psalm 32). We feel distant. We feel disgusted. And, in the end, we’re disinterested.
Yet, when we actually open God’s Word, we find good news.
God Does Not Condemn His People
Despite what you might believe, God isn’t waiting to berate you and put your frailties, faults and failures on display for all to witness. When you approach Him each day, His Word replenishes you and brings strength. It doesn’t steal and dismantle.
Instead, God’s Word revives our hearts (Psalm 19:7). John Piper makes this point in Desiring God when he explains the Scripture is clear that we go through a repeated process of restoration and renewal day-in and day-out. Every day will not be the same, much less dripping with palpable feelings of elation.
Piper says, “When Satan huffs and puffs and tries to blow out the flame of our joy, we have an endless supply of kindling in the Word of God.”
Let God’s Word do what it has the power to do: Bring new life and a wealth of encouragement to you; daily nourishment to a dry and weary soul, no matter how long it’s been since you unfurled its pages.
Instead of pointing His finger at you first thing in the morning to show where you’ve gone wrong and where you’ve fallen (Psalm 130:3-7), God sees that Christ has been perfect in your place and risen from the grave (Psalm 103:10; 2 Cor. 5:21; Galatians 5:1; Ephesians 2:4-5).
Grace Is New Every Day
God’s grace isn’t like your local Redbox; it doesn’t go out of stock and isn’t available for only 24 hours. His Word promises that He starts fresh with you and with me every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23).
Our account of mercy and grace are just as full on the morning after we didn’t get up to read as it was the year before when we were spending two hours a day in Scripture. As Jerry Bridges once said, the moment grace is given out on the basis of merit it ceases to be grace.
Let us not make the mistake of believing that God sets out to treat us the same way the enemy does; His aim isn’t to destroy us but rather to save us. Our gracious God welcomes us each morning with fresh eyes and a clean, swept welcome mat.
Don’t let your sporadic nature and lack of discipline keep you from God’s presence. We can go confidently to Him and rest in His presence, secure in who we are in the Son (Hebrews 4:16).
God Waits Expectantly
Aware of his mistakes, the prodigal son in Luke 15 returns home to confess his selfishness, disrespect and pride to the father he abandoned. He had an entire speech prepared for when he stood before his father to convey his genuine remorse. But before he could even get to the front porch, his father darted down the road to meet his beloved son, greeting him with the warm embrace that only a longing father can give.
His father waited in anticipation for his boy to come back home. No matter how long his son had been gone, no matter what his son had done before, all his mistakes were swallowed up in the loving, forgiving arms of his dad.
It would do our souls a great and glorious good to meditate on this parable when we’re overcome with fear and shame, too nervous to return to God after a season of being gone. Rest in knowing your Heavenly Father is waiting each and every day to embrace you with joy, not burden you with guilt and condemnation.
It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been away. Because of Jesus, feel the freedom to return home without fear and shame.