Sunday, January 15, 2017


Isaiah 49:1-7 January 15, 2017 Upper Rogue UMC

I wouldn't say that I make a lot of mistakes, but Fay has taken to marking her calendar whenever I get something right. Has anyone here ever failed at something? If you haven't, I want to talk to you after church and learn your secret. Paul points out that all of us have failed: (Rom 3:23) All of us have sinned and fallen short of God's glory. The question isn't “If” we fail, but, rather “When” we fail. How do we deal with it? How do we get through?

It is said that Thomas Edison had thousands of failures en route to the light bulb. His response: “Results? Why, man, I have gotten lots of results! If I find 10,000 ways something won't work, I haven't failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is often a step forward....” a concept borrowed from Ben Franklin who said: “I didn't fail the test, I just found 100 ways to do it wrong.”
Isiah has just about had it. “I said to myself, 'I'm completely worn out; my time has been wasted' ”. He is in agony over the fate of his people. He has spoken out, but they have not listened. He feels his efforts were in vain. But even as he stares failure in the face, he is not ready to surrender. “But I did it for the LORD God, and he will reward me. Even before I was born, the LORD God chose me to serve him and to lead back the people of Israel. So the LORD has honored me and made me strong.” Even though he has not succeeded, Isaiah is not about to give up. And I think there's a lot to be learned about failure from Isaiah.

First, I would suggest that what we call failure is actually God preparing us for what's ahead. As a wise business leader once said: Sometimes the worst thing that can happen to a person is to be instantly successful, because such success often teaches us the wrong lessons. Against all odds, New Jersey native Evelyn Adams won the lottery in back-to-back years — 1985 and 1986 — for a grand total of $5.4 million, Feeling lucky, and rightfully so, she took her extra cash to the tables and slot machines in Atlantic City.

She pushed her luck. Today, she's penniless and residing in a trailer park after gambling it all away.

In 2006, Lara and Roger Griffiths used their £1.8 million Lotto winnings to buy their dream home, with a price tag of £670,000, the Daily Mail reports.

They also bought a Porsche and two more properties to rent out, invested in the stock market, and Robert spent £25,000 making a record with his college band.

Unfortunately, six years later, every penny of their fortune was gone.

No, instant success, and unearned wealth is not what it's cracked up to be. Those who are truly successful are those who have been prepared by failure.
As Coco Chanel puts it: “Success is most often achieved by those who don't know that failure is inevitable.” Or, in the words of Deni Waitly; “Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.”

Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is a delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead-end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” 

An article in Forbes Magazine some time ago said: “The simple truth is – no great success was ever achieved without failure. It may be one epic failure. Or a series of failures – such as Edison's 10,000 attempts to create the lightbulb or Dyson’s 5,126 attempts to invent a bagless vacuum cleaner. But, whether we like it or not, failure is a necessary stepping stone to achieving our dreams.”

What we call failure is simply learning and preparation, as long as we don't give up. Abraham Lincoln lost his job as a store clerk, was denied entrance into law school, he borrowed money to invest in a store only to have his partner die and leave him with a huge debt. The woman he wooed for four years turned down his marriage proposal. On his third try he was elected to congress, only to be voted our two years later. He ran twice for the Senate and lost as the vice-presidential candidate. Still he didn't give up. At the age of 51 he was elected President of the United States, and became one of the most admired presidents in history.

We've heard a lot about President-elect Trumps failed marriages, businesses and bankruptcies; but in spite of all his so called failures, you have to give the man credit for not quitting.

J.M. Barrie, creator of Peter Pan, the boy who would not grow up, wrote: “We are all failures - at least the best of us are.”

Yes, without failure there can be no true success. But even more than preparing us to succeed, failure is a prelude to prayer. Let's be honest: When do you pray the hardest? Is it when everything is right in your world? I don't think so! We pray the most, and the most fervently, when we are faced with with the worst life can dish out. The worse the future looks, the harder we pray. And that's what Isaiah did with his failure. He turned to God. “ I said to myself, "I'm completely worn out; my time has been wasted.” But he knew God still had work for him, and he was right.
(Isa 49:6) Now the LORD says to me, "It isn't enough for you to be merely my servant. You must do more than lead back survivors from the tribes of Israel. I have placed you here as a light for other nations; you must take my saving power to everyone on earth."
Today, some 2500 years later, we are still benefiting from Isaiah's work. Prayer and perseverance turned failure into a resounding success.

You may have heard the story of the man who was sleeping alone in his cabin when the room filled with light and the voice of God spoke: “There is a large rock in front of your cabin. You are to push against that rock all day, every day. And the man did just that. Day after day, in the heat, the cold, the rain and the snow. Day after day pushing against that rock to no avail. The rock simply would not budge. Each night he would return home tired and discouraged, thinking his time had been wasted.
Enter Satan, (who loves to attack when we are down) “Why are you still pushing that rock? Don't you know it will never move? If I were you, I'd quit trying so hard. Just lean against the rock and save your strength...that'll be good enough.”
That sounded sensible to the weary rock pusher. But before he let off, he decided maybe he should pray about it. “Lord. I've been pushing that rock all day for months, and nothing has happened. What am I doing wrong? Why have I failed at such a simple seeming task.”
My child,” God answered, “Who said you were to move the rock? All I asked you to do was push. And you have been obedient in that. And who says you failed? Look at yourself. Your shoulders are broad, your arms are strong, and your abs are a perfect 6 pack! You have grown stronger than you ever were, and your abilities surpass that which you used to have.
True, you haven't moved the rock, but that wasn't your job. Your calling was to be obedient, to exercise your faith, and to trust in me. You have done that; and now, my child, I will move the rock.”

We humans, it seems, have tendency to use our brains to try and determine what God wants us to do, rather than to simply trust and obey. Our humanness tells us we must move the stone, when all God asks is to push the stone. Yes, we should exercise the kind of faith that moves mountains, but remember the mountains are moved by God. Our job is to PUSH—to pray until something happens! That what Isiah did. That's what Paul and Silas did. And that's what we are called to do. Rough day at work? PUSH.
Bad news from the doctor? PUSH. More month than money? PUSH. Feeling misunderstood? PUSH. Feeling worthless? PUSH. See nothing in the future? PUSH. And the more you PUSH, the more something will happen.

Don't give up. Keep on PUSHing, keep on looking for the lesson, keep on praying, and God will lead you to success. AMEN.

No comments:

Post a Comment