Live Passionately // Day 8

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.  –Howard Thurman

Do you ever feel powerless in life? Many people tell me that the number one reason they don’t try to change is because they feel powerless to alter the combined force of all the circumstances in their lives. Maybe you have a habit you feel powerless to break. Or maybe you have a problem in a relationship, and you’ve tried everything to restore it, yet it’s still falling apart. Or maybe an issue at work is draining your energy and your creativity, and you can’t see a solution. It could be that your schedule is overloaded, your in-box is overflowing, and you feel completely overwhelmed and burned out. Your emotional batteries are drained, and your mental energy has evaporated. You’re not alone; at times we all feel powerless.

People facing the end of their lives are forced to recognize their powerlessness and limitations. The weaker they get, the more they have to depend on others to take care of them. At the end of the day, they know that much of their lives is out of their control. Ultimately, they’re forced to turn to God. The ironic thing is that when they finally stop struggling and rely on His strength, they discover real power to live the rest of their lives to the fullest.

You have the same limitless power available to you each and every day. In Ephesians, Paul says, “I pray that you will begin to understand how incredibly great His power is to help those who believe Him. It is that same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead.” (1:19-20 TLB). He will give you all the power you need for the one-month-to-live lifestyle.

Maybe you feel like it’s too late. You’ve fallen and you can’t seem to get up again. When life’s forces hit us hard and we crash and burn, it’s great to know that God is the God of second chances, and He wants to give us the power to begin again. But if you’re going to have the power to begin again, you must learn from your losses. The key to not only knowing this lesson but owning and activating it is to humbly admit our failures.

The best example I know of in Scripture for this is Peter. Talk about powerless. Like us, Peter overestimated himself and then to his own surprise he realized how weak he really was when he denied Christ three times in one evening. After the third denial, the Bible says, “The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: ‘Before the rooster crows today, you will disown Me three times.’ And he went outside and wept bitterly.” (Luke 22:61-62) Peter didn’t just fail his friend – Peter denied that he even knew Him. Jesus didn’t say a word to Peter. He just looked at him. He saw the guilt and the regret and the shame. Is that how you feel? If so, take heart. God has something to say to you. He says that because of the power of His love for you, failure is never final. Because of the power of the Cross – the ultimate sacrifice producing the power over death – our weakness and failures and selfishness can never keep us down. Failure is never fatal. We have the God of the second chance, and He wants to give you the power to begin again.

How can you begin again? The first step is to admit your failures so you can learn from them. Proverbs 28:13 says, “A man who refuses to admit his mistakes can never be successful. But if he confesses and forsakes them, he gets another chance.” When we admit our mess-ups, we get another chance. When we take responsibility for our failures and don’t blame other people, God forgives can gives us the power to start over.

There’s more: you must also release your guilt. Let it go! Confession means not only acknowledging my failure but accepting God’s forgiveness; agreeing with God that because of Christ sacrifice for my sins, I am forgiven!

Jesus knew that Peter was totally broken and thought God could never use him again. He believed he had completely blown it and there was no getting up. But when Christ rose from the dead, He intentionally sought out Peter because he had a special assignment just for him! God says the same thing to you today, “I haven’t forgotten you. I have a special purpose for you. Your mess is your message! Get up and let’s go!”

After learning from his losses and releasing his guilt, Peter’s next step was to surrender to God’s strength. Like Peter, to begin again we need to surrender to God’s power. But surrender means yielding – giving ourselves over to His way of doing things. Jesus explained it this way: “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23). Jesus tells us to deny ourselves in order to find fulfillment. I have to choose to give up my way and follow God’s plan and purpose for my life if I’m truly going to be fulfilled. Every single day of my life, I come to the place where I realize I can’t do it. I come to the place where I say I want to engage with my kids, but I feel worn out. I feel selfish. I want to be a better marriage partner, but I don’t have the love I need. I want to make a difference at work, but I don’t have any energy. Every day of my life, I come to the place where I fall on my face and say, “God I can’t do it. I give up.” And God says, Finally, I’ve been waiting for that. Now I can get involved and give you My power and My strength.

When we give ourselves to God as the source of all power in our lives, then we see results we could never attain on our own. Never! No matter how hard we tried. We will fail repeatedly at our attempts to change if we’re only doing it for ourselves, by ourselves. God has so many more resources available to us – limitless power we can’t even imagine. Receive His power to begin again today and say thanks!

Personal Challenge

1. What’s the hardest lesson you’ve learned from one of the failures in your life? How has learning that lesson strengthened your character? your faith?

2. When we’ve failed and are trying to get back up, it’s often helpful to talk it out with a person we trust. Call someone today and make a plan to get together over coffee to share where you are in your faith journey. Look for ways that God may turn your mess into a message of hope like He did Peter’s.

  • Ursula Marrero

    Pastor Kerry thank you so much for these daily readings. They have been so helpful in allowing me to feel I’m not alone in this journey.

  • http://www.greglong.com Greg Long

    I’m reminded through today’s reading that my failures should never stop me from allowing God to use me.

  • http://Www.thesecondhalf-Michelle.blogspot.com Michelle welch

    Through my failures I have learned that when I try to be in charge, I will always crash and burn. I must let Him be in charge of ever little thing. With His love behind me, I can do anything!

  • Marge King

    I have gotten a FRESH view of God’s love, starting over, and never giving up. I so needed this today and Thank You, God for using Kerry Shook to reach me at my confused mind and restoring my Joy of knowing You can still use me for Your purpose in life. Bring it on, God and let’s do this together…:)

  • Shivana Khoza

    Regardless of what we have done, He is always there for us, reaching out to help us back up… May we always stand in Him…

    I hope this link is available for others to enjoy this powerful song also: (In Christ Alone I Stand)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8welVgKX8Qo&feature=related

  • Alan

    I’m so thankful for the grace to begin again. Grace is the grip of God when I let go. Peter is such an encouragement to me when I consider the failures in my life and that they don’t have to be final or fatal.

  • http://www.jesusandjaxyworld.com Jax Hill

    Thanks Pastor Kerry! It is something so many people need to hear (me, too) that we don’t have to be weighed down by past failure, but that we can be EMPOWERED by SURRENDER to Christ … how does that even work?

    I think God has our blogs in tandem because today’s (March 21) on my blog was also about starting over … even after a lifetime. But aren’t we supposed to get a new video every Monday?

    OK, check out my blog at http://www.jesusandjaxyworld.com, or if there’s space I’ll paste it here.
    ______
    Monday March 21

    One of my favorite authors is the delightful brennan manning who wrote, among others, “Abba’s Child” and “Ragamuffin Gospel.” He was an alcoholic Catholic priest who received some renown for his books, then left the priesthood when he fell in love with a woman, married, raised a family, had more success with his books, more renown and even controversy — his marriage fell apart as an alcoholic’s marriage might do, and in his later years, I believe he returned to the priesthood and then began going blind, suffered dementia, and today requires a full-time caregiver.

    What I love about dear Brennan’s writing is that he’s completely transparent about his own failures, and completely confident in the love of “the Abba (Daddy) of Jesus” to more than carry him. His latest book is “Patched Together,” a work of fiction that he says reflects his own story.

    **Spoilers Ahead **

    It’s about a disfigured little Mexican boy, Willie Juan, who is cruelly treated, experiences an encounter with Christ and grows up to be a famous wood sculptor, tries to convince the woman he loves to leave her life of squalor where she cares for abandoned children and marry him. She won’t leave her charitable work and he won’t join her, so they part, and she is hit by a car and killed. Willie Juan goes on to become a world-famous trumpet player whose song stylings bring tears to the eyes of the most tone deaf, and after another encounter with Jesus returns to his village to find his beloved alive again and this time uses his wealth to join in her good works and lives happily ever after except that he goes blind.

    Pretty weird. I was disappointed. Usually everything Brennan Manning writes speaks directly to me. So I asked Jesus: what was that about? How could that woman be alive again? How is this Brennan’s story?

    Jesus seemed to be telling me: Brennan feels he has been seduced away from his true calling many times in his life. He left the priesthood (his first love) when acclaim for his books took him on the road as a speaker and left behind the humble works of a parish priest — but for many people he was presenting beautiful images of God (the wood sculptures), he then fell in love and reared a family which was to him a beautiful, soaring achievement (the trumpet playing), then realized in his elder years that his first calling to serve as a priest and love the “least of these” was not dead to him, and went back to it, but this time with his wealth of experience from writing books and raising children and suffering divorce, etc.

    It made sense of the book — but why, I asked Jesus, would Brennan want to tell that story? It’s not my story. How does it help anyone?

    Because, Jesus seemed to be saying, many people throw away their first calling in the passion of youth and choose something that seems even better, but they come to the end of that time and think now it’s time to retire, never realizing that they can have another passionate life doing what they might have been called to do in the first place, but bringing a lifetime of experience to it … if they believe in the resurrection of their hopes and dreams, they can still find them.

    So if you feel like that — like you could have made a difference if you’d pursued it when you were younger but now it’s too late — or if you’ve traded it for a family or some other pursuit … it can still be resurrected. Now or in the future. Keep believing. The Abba of Jesus still has a wonderful future and hope for you!

  • Connie Power

    Shivana,
    Thanks for sharing that beautiful music video with us!

  • Debi Holley

    It’s amazing how this very topic can bring you to your knees at just the right time. Jesus is amazing! He is always there, if we can only humble ourselves to him!