Fail Your Way Forward
By: E. Jones
Some months ago I stood shoulder-to-shoulder with best selling author Bruce Wilkinson. Bruce stood behind an accordion partition, waiting to go on stage. I stood beside him, examining the subtleties of God’s promises. Neither of us spoke to the other, but we both shared a common bond that evening: we’d both followed God’s voice and found failure at the end of the journey.
When Bruce took the platform he explained how years earlier his first publication folded after just five issues. “When that first magazine ceased publication, I was certain of only one thing – I’d never produce another magazine.” Soon afterwards, Bruce explained, he did produce another periodical, albeit reluctantly. In 1978 Bruce launched Daily Walk and his Walk Thru the Bible publishing ministry began. “Had that first magazine succeeded, I might have been tempted to take credit for its success and that of Daily Walk. But that failure left no doubt in my mind as to who deserved the glory.”
I, too, have launched and lost money in publishing ventures. I, too, have felt certain of God’s voice and found myself lost in a wasteland of debt and doubt. What does it mean to create and fail in the thing God has called you to? What does it mean to begot and not have success?
This is a record of the ancestors of Jesus the Messiah, a descendant of David and of Abraham: Abraham was the father of Isaac. Isaac was the father of Jacob. Jacob was the father of Judah and his brothers. – Matthew 1:1-2(NLT)
Abraham became a father, as God promised, but the pause between God’s pledge and the fulfillment of that promise, spanned decades, causing Abraham to question the accuracy of God’s vision. Like us, Abraham sought to reshape God’s promise into an idol he could touch, see and understand. “Compromise is the answer,” we say. “I will sleep with the maidservant for this is what God meant.”
God’s plan, in God’s time, with God’s people always produces fruit, but that doesn’t mean we won’t stumble and fail our way forward. Our time in the desert is both necessary and ordained by God for it prepares us for His vision. The testing of our faith transforms us into a servant worthy of big dreams with bold outcomes. The trials demand we answer this question: “Will I trust God enough to see me through to the other side even when I can’t see the edge?” Isn’t that the question that haunts us as we breathe our final breath?
I lost $30,000 on a boating magazine and swore I’d never publish another book or periodical. And yet, here I am thirty years later publishing Christian books.
At the close of the conference, I walked to the summit of Chimney Rock and stood on the mesa overlooking the terracotta stratus of New Mexico’s brown and tan mountains. A cold westerly wind pushed against me, driving me away from the edge. This is the thing we fear: falling, failure, and defeat in all its finality. We reach for the dream and recoil when our fingers find nothing but emptiness.
“The problem with the Church,” Bruce said, “is too many Christians are afraid of failure. But God rarely makes our fear disappear. Instead, He asks us to be strong and take courage.”
But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!” – Matthew 14:27 (NLT)
Take courage, create, and claim the promises God has planted in your heart. Hold God’s hand and give birth to your dream. You can’t find the edge if you don’t lean over. So lean on Him and look across the wasteland.