WAITING AFTER FAILURE
WAITING AFTER FAILURE
Part 2 of Waiting. Exodus 2:11-25.
Peter Foxwell. The Cornerstone Church. August 13, 2017.
Failure does not have to be final. When we make a mistake, take a wrong turn, or fall into some kind of sin, we can choose to stay down for the count. Or we can choose to get up and get going. In Christ, every day can be a fresh start. Moses is living proof of life after a fall. And so are Abraham, David, Peter, and Paul. There's a way forward after epic fails. God still has a plan for your life.
THE FALL OF MOSES
Exodus 2 doesn't go into great detail. We know Moses beat a guy to death. But why would a prince of Egypt risk everything to do that? Acts 7 has the answer:
“Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action.When Moses was forty years old, he decided to visit his own people, the Israelites. 24 He saw one of them being mistreated by an Egyptian, so he went to his defense and avenged him by killing the Egyptian. 25 Moses thought that his own people would realize that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not." - Acts 7:22-25
As in so much of life, there are mixed motives here: Moses wanted to rescue his people. Instead of leaving vengeance up to God, Moses took things into his own hands.
I think Moses had a temper problem; he was a prince used to getting his own way. He got mad. He lashed out. It was murder. After that, he was finished in Egypt. The Pharaoh couldn't let a traitor live. He wasn't going to let Moses lead a slave revolt. So ... Moses fled. That was a very good idea!
Moses can teach us what to do after failure ...
1. LEARN FROM FAILURE
Moses made two very serious mistakes:
First, he didn't wait for God's timing. He knew God planned to rescue his people from Egypt (Genesis 15:13-14; Acts 7:6-7). So, Moses decided to get the ball rolling. He dove right in with his own rescue plan.
Second, Moses relied on his own resources, not God's. He was a prince. He was well educated. He was powerful in speech and action - Acts 7:22. Tradition tells us that he was a warrior - a soldier who had been victorious in battle. Moses lost his temper and let loose his power. He tried to do God's work man's way. And that never works.
But Moses learned from his mistakes:
When he fled into the dessert, he didn't try to raise an army. He waited for God to say go. And he waited for 40 years - Acts 7:30.
And when he had a confrontation with the shepherds at the well, Moses didn't attack them. He kept his temper in check and the situation resolved - Ex. 2:17.
After a failure, take a time out. Reflect on what happened. Learn from it. Prepare for next time. That's what the Bible teaches us to do: "The simple inherit folly, but the prudent are crowned with knowledge." - Proverbs 14:18
Last week, Laura Muir competed in the 1500 meters race in the World Championships. She had a bad race. She told a reporter: “I watched the race back, talked about it with my coach and my family, and it took about a day to analyze it all and put it into perspective." She wanted to learn from her mistakes. (The Guardian online 8/10/17)
When you fall into sin, ask yourself: What triggered it? What was I doing, who was I with, what was my goal? James 1:14 teaches that we're all weak in certain areas: "Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed." Learn from your mistakes, do better next time.
2. MOVE ON FROM FAILURE
Moses ran away from Egypt. But he didn't run away from life. He stayed engaged: When he saw the bullies at the well, he stepped in (Exodus 2:16-17). He got a job. He got married. He had kids (2:21-22). He got on with life for forty years (Acts 7:30). And he ended up in the household of the priest of Midian (2:16) - a man of God. Moses ran to God - whether he intended to or not!
The worst thing to do after a fall is to run away from God. It's a double mistake to hide in shame. That doesn't fix anything. It makes things worse. King David discovered that personally and wrote about in Psalm 32:
"When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night your hand was heavy on me." - Psalm 32:2-3
The best way to move on from sinful failures is to run to Christ and his cross. That's where God makes things right:
He's takes away our guilt: "He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross." - Colossians 2:13-14
He washes away our shame: “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool." - Isaiah 1:18
You can go to the Lord over and over. He has more than enough grace for your sins:
Romans 5:20 - "Where sin increased, grace increased all the more."
Psalm 51:7: "He will freely pardon."
Zach Williams wrote about this in his Chain Breaker song: If you’ve got pain, he’s a pain taker. If you feel lost, he’s a way maker. If you need freedom or saving, he’s a prison-shaking Savior. If you’ve got chains, he’s a chain breaker."
SERVICE OF RE-DEDICATION
This is a good moment to re-dedicate our lives to the Lord together as a whole church. Think what the Lord can do with a whole group who are surrendered to the Lord. An anointed army of Jesus-following, Spirit-filled, Gospel-sharing servants.
This should be a daily habit, something we do personally. But it's also good for the whole church to do together. Let's be united in this one thing: we are all devoted to Christ, surrendered to his will, walking in his ways.
We're going to follow a simple plan: some verses from Psalm 51, a longish moment of quiet thought, and a prayer of re-dedication.
Let's read together these verse from Psalm 51:
Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Now, talk to the Lord yourself. Come clean. Commit yourself to him again. "You won't relent until you have it all, my heart is yours."
Let's pray together this simple prayer of re-dedication:
Heavenly Father, today, I commit my life to You. I surrender all that I am and all that I have to your will and your ways. I will live for your glory. I will love you and obey you and trust in you my God. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
3. BE OPEN TO WHAT'S NEXT
What tends to happen after a big fall is we write ourselves off. We put ourselves on the bench and sit on the sidelines of life. We listen to the naysayers and we think, "God can't use me. I'm damaged goods. I've messed up too many times."
But God doesn't look at us that way. He takes broken things and makes them beautiful. He's in the restoration business.
When Kim and I were first married, her parents gave us an old kitchen table. It was ugly. Many layers of chipped paint. But I slathered it with solvent until finally all that was left was the original wood. It was beautiful. Many years later, we gave it to our nephew for his wedding gift.
God restored Moses. He was out in the desert working the sheep when a nearby bush exploded into flames. And the LORD met him there and gave him a new revelation of his glory and a new assignment: "So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.” - Exodus 3:10
Moses, the murderer was now Moses, the liberator. Last week, I heard a preacher say, "Setbacks are set-ups for comebacks.
You'll never know what God can do with your life after failure until you make yourself available to him. Ask him to give you a new assignment. Paul was an angry, violent, enemy of the church, when God restored him. Paul wrote about it: "God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners." - 1 Timothy 1:16 (NLT)
With God, it's not one and done. He restores. He forgiveness. He heals. After failure, start over full of faith and expectation. When King David thought he'd lost his throne, he declared: "You, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high." - Psalm 3:3
Don't wallow in self pity. Don't listen to the critics. Tell yourself, "The Lord's not done with me yet. He'll lift my head high. He'll restore me. He's got something for me."
After a failure, the devil will come whispering lies into your mind, "You're useless. You're a disgrace. You're on the scrapheap."
When you're feeling down and out, your "frenemies" will give you bad advice, "It's time to admit defeat. There's no way God can use you anymore."
Well ... that's just not true. If the Lord only used perfect people, no one would qualify. The entire Bible is an amazing collection of comeback stories. God gets the job done through flawed, failed, floundering men and women WHO TRUST HIM.
After a failure, you might have to wait. Things might need to get sorted out. You might need to make some deep changes. But God's got plans for your future. He's poured so much potential into your life:
He's re-created you in Christ. You're his masterpiece appointed for service.
He's anointed you with spiritual gifts. You're his hands and feet.
He's the lifter of your head. He restores your soul. He pours healing oil on you.
The greatest failure of all - the only failure God cannot work with - is the failure to get back up after a fall.
When I was in middle school, my mom sent me to horse riding lessons every Saturday morning. One day, my horse bucked me right off. It was a huge horse and I fell a long way down onto the rocky track. I just wanted to lie there forever. But my instructor told me to get back on. She knew if I gave up I'd never get back on a horse again. She yelled at me and at the time I hated her. Now, I understand.
Do you understand? Some of you are so used to living in defeat, you think it's normal to stay down - you might even think it's necessary and you're being noble and spiritual - "I had my chance and I blew it." But you're dead wrong. Get back in the saddle. God's not done with you yet.