What is the price of failure?
“The price of failure is devastation and utter ruin” is a line from a book I have long since forgotten, but the quote has stayed with me. What a horrible existence it would be if that line were the truth of it. How could anyone ever risk success if the chance of “utter ruin” lurked around every corner?
Failure is inevitable and unavoidable, not because we don’t try to succeed, but because we are not able to account for all the varied forces that swirl about us—and swirl they do! This past Sunday morning at 9:45 all was in its place-- tripod, notebook, electric line, wifi--everything was ready. And then…failure. Reboot the computer, check the wifi, open a new window, change the browser, quick quick, use the phone instead, in the end repeated corrective measures to solve the mystery problem proved useless and all attempts ended in…failure.
I have heard how people tried to get on and stay on, doing in their living rooms and kitchens what I was doing in my back yard. I didn’t stop the service, though I knew few if any could be participating and I later heard how other people met their failure, not by screaming or ranting at the computer, but by following the service by themselves and praying for everyone else. As it turned out, the failure of our social media connection, though tragic in one sense, was not a failure after all, but an opportunity.
In his letter to the Philippians St Paul writes, “That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” 3:10. What a liberation Paul sees for you and me in Jesus’ hope for the fulfillment of our lives as we “become like him in his death!” No, not dead, but liberated as Jesus was in body and in Spirit! To struggle, to encounter obstacles, to to be cut down (I know I’m overstating the electronics bust, but think of other problems in your life) is to be like him in his death, which is to be set free from the threat of “utter destruction and the tyranny that failure holds over us as a measure of worth.
Last Sunday we were prevented, by unforeseen forces, to worship together in the way we wanted to. But we still were able to praise God and pray in the Holy Spirit. The failure to connect in social media is not a failure of love or compassion or joy, in fact it was an opportunity to know God in the moment in a different way.
As Jesus tells us, “the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him,” (John 4:23) as we gather together. In the midst of that worship, rather in the Church or in the kitchen, there are those divine moments (long moments, I pray!) when God is palpably known to us. Those moments cannot be derailed by failure anymore that the sun can be put out by a cloud.
Whether we are able to be together or not, if there are unforeseen forces scrambling our efforts and attempting to dash our hopes upon the rocks, there is still greater opportunity to ‘be still, and know that God is God.’ (Psalm 46:10)
"I've come to believe that all my past failure and frustrations
were actually laying the foundation for the understanding that
have created the new level of living I now enjoy." - Anthony Robbins
And ALL God’s children say, “AMEN!