Last week I asked you and many others to pray—pray that the forecasted bad weather on Sunday, December 14, 2014, would not disrupt Carols and Candlelight on the Square (planned way back in September), an event intended for us to take the good news of Jesus’ birth to our community through song and candle-lighting.
Every day the weather report look darker and darker. Sunday after church, leaders and myself looked again at the weather forecast and decided to cancel our event like so many other community events had already done. We all agreed on a Plan B.
Then, I spent most of my afternoon watching the weather. Of course, the rain cleared, and a big dose of self-doubt set in. Did I not trust enough? Did I not have enough faith in the prayers I had requested? Did I give up too easily? Or… could the Plan B that emerged have an even greater impact?
As I stewed, more fear started to settle in. Would my actions be seen as doubt in answered prayers? I felt like I was opening myself up for others to condemn and judge me for a lack of belief. To say the least, I was feeling like a failure as a leader (and can I just say, I really really hate the feeling of failure).
I prayed and prayed, asking God to help me through this. I prayed that God would help me to know what to do next. I prayed that God might help me learn from this situation. After 24 hours of stewing and praying I came to four conclusions:
Only God knows what would or could have happened if we had gone ahead—and only God knows what will come of Plan B.
- God works through our doubts. Remember the story of a man who brought his demon-possessed son to be healed by Jesus’ disciples, but they couldn’t do it. So he took his son to Jesus. Jesus was his last shot before giving up. His doubt and frustration came through loud and clear to Jesus. When Jesus rebuked him and told him to have faith, the father said one of the most honest things ever in the history of humanity: “I do believe; help my overcome my unbelief.” (Mark 9:14-24)
- Our God is a God of second chances (redemption). God works in and through our failures and brokenness. God will work through these situations as well.
- And finally, I was reminded of a famous quote by Albert Einstein, “Failure is success in progress.” I needed to be reminded that failure is going to be part of the process. This is not the first time and it won’t be the last time a difficult decision will need to be made. Some of those decisions will bring success and others will bring opportunities to learn (failures). The good news is that our God is a God of second chances. God doesn’t expect us to be perfect. And if we learn from the setbacks, the challenges, and the doubts, we will be a better and stronger church.
Let me make something very clear: I want to dream big dreams with you. I want to start bold new projects and partnership that are bigger than we can achieve alone. We will need God’s help; we’ll need to trust God. Some things will fall apart no matter how hard we work and plan. We will start projects that go nowhere. We will be like Charlie Brown—we will kick and miss at the football so hard, we land flat on our back. And we will try again. And again. And again.
Our church’s name is Faith. And so we will live by faith, to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. By faith, we will be the hands and feet of God on earth, sent to proclaim the good news of the Kingdom come near. Our mission is so worthwhile, our message is so powerful, our God is so good that fear and doubt and shame have no place in our lives.
We will constantly do new things to share the love of God with the people we meet, and some things will fail. Nobody is perfect. But some of those things will succeed. And those moments of success, those moments of grace, those Kingdom moments, make every false step, every bad experience, every tough moment more than worth it.