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Chasing Freedom

Lessons From My Failures

By June 12, 2014 No Comments

big-rock-39333-mA man stood before God listening intently; he wanted to catch every single word of instruction.

“Do you see that boulder there?” God asked. “I created it and placed it exactly there with you in mind. This is your mission, your calling. I want you to push that boulder.”

“That’s all God?” The man glanced down at his puny physique and felt a flush of shame redden his cheeks. It doesn’t seem like a very important job, he thought. At the same time, doubt clashed with his indignation. What if I’m not strong enough to move that huge rock, he wondered.

“That is exactly what I made you to do,” God affirmed. “I will always be with you. Don’t worry, you can do all things through my strength.”

So the man set his shoulder against the stone. Day in and day out, night after long night, he pressed on. Over time, his shoulders broadened with sinewy muscle. His skin grew dark and tan at first, then weathered and ruddy. His shoulder bruised. Once or twice, he pulled back and looked at the massive rock. It hadn’t moved a millimeter.

The voice of doubt reached a fevered pitch in his mind: I’m failing. The one, seemingly insignificant thing God gave me to do and I can’t even manage that. And where is God? I thought He was going to help me—be my strength! Maybe I didn’t hear Him right. Maybe He’s not even pleased with all my work. I only wanted to be obedient. I’m sure someone else could do a better job. 

Just then, he felt a presence behind him. His Lord stood there, quietly assessing the tired man and the stone. “I’m sorry, God,” the man whispered. “I couldn’t move it even one tiny bit.”

Jesus reached out a scarred hand and tipped the man’s face up to look Him in the eyes. “What are you talking about?” He asked gently. “I never asked you to move the stone. I only asked you to push it.”

My pastor told that story in a message about finishing well. He quoted Paul in 1 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

My hearted perked up with his words. I’ve felt like that! For more than a decade I prayed and struggled to conquer an eating disorder. With every mistake or relapse, I felt like a failure, a worthless Christian. But, as I listened to the sermon, I felt Jesus’ presence. I turned my heart to listen.

“Daughter,” He said. “You cannot heal yourself. You assume a great burden when you expect a perfect result. You can only obey me, one day at a time. I am your healer. Can you see what good has come of your struggles? You have grown strong. You are learning to rest in me. You’ve gained some calluses and bruises, but now you are wiser too, and know me well.”

My imagination of a “perfect” recovery was just that—imagination. While full of mistakes and do-overs, I have learned much in this journey. Proverbs 24:16 “The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again. But one disaster is enough to overthrow the wicked.”

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