Can you give God the glory for your failure?

In the last couple of months, nearly a year really, I’ve been struggling and fighting with God about His plans for my life. He’s so funny. Just when you think you have Him figured out, He shifts you in a different direction.

I’ve been arguing with Him for ages, and now that I’ve made my decision, I’m wondering what exactly was holding me back for this long. I know it was fear partially, but fear of what? I know part of me feared to succeed and not be prepared enough for success, but most definitely the larger part of me feared to fail.

I’m a perfectionist, so I don’t like failure. I’m a people pleaser, so I don’t like disappointing others. Put those two characteristics together, and you’ve got a dangerous combination. But here’s a question we really need to ask ourselves: Should we really be afraid of failure?

Processed by: Helicon Filter;  MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAToday’s verse is 1 Corinthians 10:31.

So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

I understand sometimes that the Bible uses figurative language, which means it’s important to understand the context. If you just pick up a Bible verse and take it literally without understanding who it was written to or why it was written, you could have a faith system based on “eat, drink, and be merry” and “then, Judas hanged himself.”

Context is important in Scripture, but sometimes you get a verse that doesn’t require context. It’s so plain, you don’t have to break it down. This is one of those verses.

Whatever you do, do it for God’s glory.

That means, if you succeed, if you fail, if you win, if you lose, you can do all of it for God’s glory, but what does that look like practically? Can you actually fail for God’s glory? Can you actually lose for God’s glory?

Doing anything for God’s glory used to confuse me. I didn’t know how to handle it practically, but as I’ve gotten older, I think I’ve started to grasp the concept a little better. Glory is kind of an old-fashioned word, and in churchy context, it tends to glow in stained glass colors, which I’ve always found make it difficult to fit into real life. Glory is the credit you give for the events and circumstances in your life.

Did you win an award? Who gets the credit? Did you get a great job? Who gets the credit? That’s the context we think about in giving credit to someone. Usually credit is only associated with what we call positive things. If our life encounters negative things, we don’t give credit. We pin blame.

If you get laid off, you don’t give anyone credit for you. You blame people. If you lose someone you love, you don’t give credit for it. You point fingers. But what would happen to our lives and our perspectives if we start giving God credit even for the terrible things that happen to us? Not in a way that accuses Him but in the way that demonstrates we believe He has something better in mind.

That would take your failure and turn it on its head, because if you fail for God’s glory–if you fail and give God credit for allowing you to fail–is it really failure? No, not at all. Everything that happens in our lives happens for a reason, even if it’s something bad. You can learn something from everything that happens to you, and God is big enough to take every horrible thing in your life and turn it into something beautiful. But before He can do that–or, rather, before you can see Him doing that–you have to be willing to give Him the credit for what’s happening in your life.

It’s not easy, because blame feels so much more natural. Well, it is natural. We’re geared to tear others down, to hurt people with our words, to shift responsibility from ourselves to those around us. That’s natural, thanks to our sinful natures, but if you’re a Christ-follower, you aren’t called to a natural life. You’re called to a supernatural life.

Has something awesome happened to you? Give God the credit for it. Has something terrible happened to you? Give God the credit because you trust He’ll make something beautiful from the ashes.

Don’t be afraid of failure or success. God is enough to work with both, and if you have Him on your side, nobody will be able to stop you. Not even yourself.

Talking to ghosts

There’s a show on SciFy that captures my attention every time I have the chance to see it. It’s called Ghost Hunters. And it’s these two plumbers who decided to found a paranormal activity society in New England. It’s actually gotten huge. They have an international branch too. And what they do is travel around the world, testing to see whether or not specific locations are haunted.

Let me first express the fact that I don’t believe in ghosts. At least, not the kind of ghosts that these people are chasing. I believe in demons. So it’s with something of a morbid curiosity that I watch this show. If the show is real and no part of it is fake, let’s just say that there are some demons out there having a lot of fun with these people, moving chairs, shutting doors, etc.

 These Ghost Hunters usually end up going to old houses or hotels or castles, and what they try to do is to determine whether or not the place is full of ghosts. Many times, this group is able to “prove” that a place isn’t actually haunted and what people who live there are hearing is a result of the house settling or other architectural issues (which is honestly why I enjoy the show since they truly take a very logical, rational approach to this unusual topic). However, if they decide the location is full of ghosts, sometimes they have to advise the owners how to proceed. Most of the time, their conversations “with the ghosts” center on what the ghosts want.

This isn’t a very good segue, but in a way, every Christian is something of a Ghost Hunter in that sense. Let me explain my thought process on this one.

Today’s verse is out of Galatians, one of my favorite books of the Bible.

Galatians 2:20

20 My old self has been crucified with Christ.[a] It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Before I decided to believe in Jesus, I only had one side — the dark side. But the moment I chose to follow Christ, God renewed the dead spirit inside me, giving me full access to Him by filling me with His Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, though, that dark side is still there, haunting me. The person I used to be is still hanging around inside, urging me to do things I know are contrary to God’s Word. 

I’m ashamed to admit that many times I let my dark nature win. Somedays it’s just easier to give in and be selfish or feel pride or entitlement. Somedays a white lie will fix everything — or so it seems. Somedays it’s easy to lose patience with people who irritate me. It doesn’t matter how wrong it is, that dark side of my heart doesn’t care. And only after I let it happen do I remember that I could have stopped it.

According to this verse out of Galatians, my old self — that dark part of my nature — was crucified with Christ. The person who I used to be is dead. The person who I was has no more power over me than death itself does — except on the days when I give that person power over me by not trusting in Christ.

The fact is, I have to choose every morning who I’m going to believe, who I’m going to trust. I can either trust my dark, dead ghost of a sinful nature that has already been crucified but is still loud enough that I keep listening to it. Or I can trust Jesus who was crucified but still lives.

Personally, I think it’s a good idea to figure out what your old sin nature wants. Once you figure out what it’s telling you to do, you’ll know better how to say no to it. And I need to say no to it. Because nothing that old sin nature wants is good, but no is a term you shouldn’t use in a generic sense. You need to know why you’re saying no.

My old nature is dead. It’s not gone yet, but it’s dead. And it hangs around me like a ghost, screaming in my ears, slamming doors and moving chairs and making racket loud enough that somedays I think it’s easier just to do what it wants me to do. But I don’t have to listen to a ghost. I don’t have to live my life that way. God has given me the strength to choose to do the right thing, to follow His plan.

Living the Christian life is a process, a series of choices. Do I listen? Do I ignore? Do I outright refuse? Why or why not? This morning I have decided that I’m going to trust Christ today and deafen my ears to what my dark nature is telling me to do. In an hour, I will probably make that same decision again. And then, I will probably revisit the decision an hour after that.

In the end, though, I can’t ever be perfect. As long as I’ve got that dark nature hanging around my neck, I won’t ever make it on my own. I’m so thankful, though, that our dark sides won’t last forever. And I am eagerly anticipating the day that Christ comes back for us when the dark side of who I am will fall away and leave me with nothing but my renewed self and the Holy Spirit. Then I won’t have to listen to the ghost of my past self anymore.