i’m a loser

Category : Jesus, Mark, choice, failure, faith, taking action

 

Success.  Failure.  We all experience these things.  Even if you’re Bill Gates or Tom Brady you will have both highs and lows in your life.  That’s just the way it is.  In fact, we’re all losers – we all have more failures than successes. 

In the AFC championship game a Steelers rookie dropped a pass that was a guaranteed touchdown.  He was so wide open it was embarrassing.  And yet at the moment that would have crowned his rookie year, he blew it.  A moment that would have sealed him in Steelers history, he choked and took his eyes off the ball.

We’ve all been there.  Well, ok, maybe we haven’t screwed up before a live TV audience.  But we’ve all screwed up in public ways.  And we have all wanted to lie on the ground and pretend we’re injured, just like Sweed did.  We think, “well if we’re injured, at least we have an excuse.”  Which feels so much better than admitting you’re a loser.

We live in a world that pretends you can be successful 100% of the time.  We’re told that life can be easy.  That it can be safe.  That the worst thing that can happen to us is to be placed in danger.  But the truth is, that’s a lie. 

The world is filled with failure.  And we are all losers. 

The question isn’t, “will I fail?”  The questions is, “will I get back up again?”  Limas Sweed almost didn’t get back up.  He almost stayed on the ground.  But something changed his mind.  Something made him get back up.  And you know what?  He became a winner.  He had two key plays that changed the course of the game.  He unleashed a devastating block and had a key catch.

In one game Sweed was both a loser and a winner.  That sounds a lot like our lives, doesn’t it?   

Peter had days like that too.  On the day Jesus was arrested, Peter put his best foot forward and declared,  ”even if all fall away, I will not!“  I think most of us would be thrilled to make such a bold statement.  We’d love to take a stand for Jesus that many people refused to do.  Yet, within a few hours Peter was hiding in fear, denying his relationship to Jesus. 

Peter was a loser.

But that’s not where his story ends.  And it doesn’t have to be where our story ends.  Peter went on to change the world with his life.  He got back up.  And because of that was able to do something amazing. 

That’s what God wants for all of us: to get back up.  We may be laying on the ground, just like Peter, but we don’t have to stay there.  We can get up and keep moving forward.  That’s the whole point of grace. 

There may be no better definition of faith then getting up one more time – especially when we don’t feel like it.  That’s what it means to live out a life of faith. 

impatience

Category : faith, hope, live for the eternal

 

The economy is tough right now.  It seems like every day I hear about another friend losing their job.  Or gas prices rising.  And let’s not even talk about the housing market.  Frankly it feels as if nothing will ever change; that we’ll be stuck in this economy forever, with no hope of improvement. 

And yet, it wasn’t that long ago I remember wondering if the economy would ever slow down.  It seemed as if the stock market always went up, and new homes were bought just as fast as they were made. 

Funny how that is.

Why do we get so caught up in The Moment™ that we convince ourselves that nothing is going to change?  Peter felt that way the night they came to take Jesus to his death.  He felt so strongly that things weren’t going to change that he declared nothing would shake his faith in Jesus (Mark 14: 27-31). 

I think we get caught up in the moment because we lose sight of our true goal - a relationship with God that lasts forever.  When we shift our focus to other places, no matter how well intentioned, we get distracted.  True joy, true hope, and true happiness will never come from an economy – good or bad.   

Of course I’m no better at this than anyone else.  The reality is, it takes work to stay focused.  Some days it’s easy.  But more often than not it takes sheer will power.  In the end though, reminding myself to “focus on the eternal” keeps me moving towards God.  And that perspective helps me be a little more patient when life doesn’t work out the way I want.   

i don’t need to listen to God

2

Category : God, Jesus, Mark, bible, shame

  

“Peter declared, ‘Even if all fall away, I will not.’” (Mark 14: 29)

That’s a bold statement.  You’d have to be pretty confident in yourself to say that no matter what happened, the only person to stay faithful is you. 

Peter was determined though. 

When Jesus responded saying that all of the disciples, including Peter, would turn away from him, Peter reaffirms his statement.  Telling Jesus emphatically “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” (Mark 14: 31)

Cue ominous music.

We all know what happened: Jesus was right and Peter denied him.  But I have to wonder – what would have happened if Peter had listened to Jesus?  If Peter had been more interested in listening to what Jesus was saying than proving his loyalty, would Peter have remained loyal?  Would being aware of his weakness allow him to overcome it? 

There’s no way to know, obviously.  But reading about this incident forces me think about the role pride plays in my own life.  When I feel pride I don’t want to admit I’m wrong.  I become invested in protecting my definition of reality.  And often that means I’m not prepared to handle dramatic change. 

I bet Peter wasn’t much different. 

And lets face it, Jesus’ arrest was something Peter didn’t expect.  He never dreamed that Jesus would be lead away without a fight.  He never dreamed Jesus wouldn’t use his powers to protect himself.  It must have been crushing to Peter to see Jesus give up “so easily.”

If he was filled with pride before, his emotions must have been raging.  He must have felt the fear that comes when we believe our world is being destroyed.  But more than that, he must have felt shame.  Shame at believing in someone who wouldn’t (or perhaps it crossed his mind – couldn’t – save himself.) 

It’s no wonder Peter denied Jesus.

Peter was so intent on following his pride that he couldn’t hear Jesus’ warning.  Even though Jesus told all the disciples that he was about to die for them, they simply refused to believe it.  Their pride kept them from the truth.   

Sometimes we think God takes pleasure in hiding the truth from us.  But I have to wonder, how often does he tell us what’s going to happen, and we respond saying, “that’s nice God, but let me tell you what’s really going on.”

How many things would be different in my life if I simply listened when God spoke, instead of trying to explain to God why he was wrong?