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Failing Into Arms of Grace

Most of us use our successes to hide our sense of failure.  We’d be better to fail into Jesus’ arms of grace.

Fail? Yes. Let me show you what it means to admit our failures and receive grace.

I was a hero child. I was all about hitting home runs, getting straight A’s, and being a good Christian. I did household chores. I did yard work. I babysat four younger siblings. I tried not to have any problems. I tried to make my parents proud.

I was increasingly anxious, alienated, and depressed.

In college I studied psychology. My teacher, Cara, believed in learning by personal experience, not just lecture.

One evening I was sitting in the group therapy she led, listening to my peers barf out their emotional junk. Just before the end of “class” Jerry blurted out:

“What about you Bill? You just sit up there on your pedestal.”

My face flushed and I swallowed my tongue. I couldn’t get out of there quick enough!

A few days later I had my Teacher’s Aid (TA) meeting with Cara. At the start of the school term I had jumped out of my seat when she asked for a volunteer to be her TA! I assumed she’d give me tips on how to be a successful Christian counselor like her. But the meetings consisted of her asking me, “How are you feeling?”

“Confused,” I answered. “Why did Jerry say I’m sitting atop a pedestal?”

By this time I had climbed back up there. Cara knew, but instead of toppling me like Jerry did, she used empathy to gently woo me to come down.

Sharing my real and raw self with Cara, I received a hug from Jesus.

I’ve spent the rest of my life learning how to fail into the embrace of God’s grace. I do this by sharing my perceived and actual failings with safe people as unto the Lord.

Even Jesus fell down, not in sin of course, but in leaving heaven to come to earth as a human (John 1:14), in taking on our sin and dying on the cross for us (2 Corinthians 5:21), and in going to hell to preach the gospel (Ephesians 4:9).

According to the ancient tradition, Jesus fell under the weight of the cross three times (Matthew 27:32). Each time Jesus fell for us, he fell into Abba’s arms of love. (See my booklet Unforsaken.)

Best of all, Jesus rose from the dead and he lives to help us rise again!

Brennan Manning wrote, “Every failure succeeds in some way.”

Huh? How could that be true? “It provides the opportunity not only to humble the self, but also to be with the failure of others.” (Reflections for Ragamuffins, p. 264)

In his memoir, All is Grace, this famous Franciscan priest and best-selling author confessed a lifetime of alcoholism, brokenness, and deceit. He wrote his last book after his wife divorced him and he’d had yet another relapse. His personal and moral failings were juxtaposed with great spiritual gifts and success.

His successes weren’t just the glittering kind. He also had delightful experiences of intimacy with the Abba of Jesus and offered extraordinary Christian service to “Ragamuffins” — “sinners” and outcasts who are bedraggled, beat up, or burnt out.

“When I relapsed,” writes the Ragamuffin, “I had two options: yield once again to guilt, fear, and depression; or rush into the arms of my heavenly Father.” (Abba’s Child, p. 17)

If you’re feeling guilty about your sin, run to Jesus!

If you’re hurting, afraid, angry, or stressed out, run to Jesus!

If you want to stay out of sin, run to Jesus!

Jesus is ready to embrace you in Abba’s unfailing love!


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“Your pursuit of Jesus is life-giving! It’s encouraging to have other pilgrims to travel with.”
Paula ~ Mechanicsburg, PA

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