So I’d like to start off today’s Wes Wednesday post with a little video that I saw recently and found a little funny:
(Can’t see the video? Click here.)
How many of us have been there? Seriously, if they would have replaced donuts with Pringles, that would have been me a few Sunday nights ago.
But honestly, isn’t that how we all feel sometimes, especially when we are trying to undertake something that’s hard and new? A couple Sundays ago, we unrolled our desire to hear from God every day as a church, and specifically to do so through reading God’s Word. That’s awesome! Many of you signed up the next day for YouVersion, got the e100 Challenge, and started reading. Last Monday, I saw a bunch of Facebook posts (you probably did too) from all my friends here at Suncrest who were taking that next step and beginning the journey together. That’s awesome!
Then Tuesday happened. Maybe you’re more spiritual than me, but here’s how it worked out. Day 1 of e100 started off great. But then that night, I was out until about 1am and didn’t get to bed until 1:30 or 2. That sounds bad enough, but it gets worse when you find out my wakeup time the next day (actually, the same day, I guess) was at 5:45am for all of our Tuesday meetings at Suncrest the next day. Finding time to spend with God is a challenge, but especially when you’re only going on 3.5 hours of sleep. (I’m sure many parents of young ones are out there nodding their agreement.)
I kinda got my e100 stuff done. Thankfully, our reading that day was only 25 verses or so. I got that done, but to say that I was really in deep thought and meditation on it would be a stretch to say the least. In fact, I kind of blitzed through it. I definitely blitzed through our two questions. I’ve discovered for myself that I can’t just think about my answers to reflection questions; if they are going to impact me, I need to actually write down my responses in the journaling app on my iPad. That day, I only got far enough to write down the two reflection questions… not my responses. Oops.
We’ve all been there, right? There’s nothing that takes the wind out of your sails when you’re trying to start something important and great and new than missing it or messing it up. And in those moments, we start to hear the voice of the devil figure in the video; we hear the voice of cynicism, the voice of doubt, the voice that tells us we can’t do it and we’re a failure. When you’re trying to do something that feels spiritual, it’s even worse because you feel like it’s a judgment on how bad of a Christ follower you are.
But that’s not the attitude of Jesus. Take a look at one example from Jesus’ words in the book of Luke:
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31-32, NLT).
Let me give a little context here. Jesus and his disciples are in the Garden of Gethsemane, and they are quickly approaching Jesus’ arrest, trial, and crucifixion (it’s literally hours, if not minutes away at this point). Jesus knows exactly what’s going to happen; Simon (Peter) is going to be asked three times if he knows Jesus, and he will deny him three times. In other words, Peter’s going to have a real #epicfail on his hands in a few hours.
But look at Jesus’ words to Peter here, even knowing all of that. He essentially says, “Peter, I know you’re going to mess up. You’re going to miss it, and you’re probably going to feel pretty bad about it. But here’s the deal: When you screw up, just pick yourself up, turn back toward me, and go at it again, strengthening and leading these guys around you.” Jesus’ attitude toward Peter when he screws up isn’t one of rejection, it’s one of forgiveness. Jesus doesn’t discount Peter because he messed up, he just offers him a second chance. (I like to imagine Jesus giving Peter a fist bump at that point.)
It’s easy to get down on ourselves when we fall off track. That applies in every area of our lives, and definitely every area of our spiritual lives. It’s pretty easy for us to beat ourselves up when we were determined to be loving to our spouse, but got in a big argument again. It’s easy to get disappointed when we were determined to take advantage of an opportunity to tell someone about Jesus, yet only managed to squeak out a “Hey, how you doing?” when we see them. With regard to e100 stuff, it’s really easy to just fall off the wagon when we miss a day (or a week) and feel like we’re so far behind that we can never get caught up. But in all these situations, I think Jesus’ attitude toward us is just like his attitude toward Peter: Yes, he acknowledges our failure, but he doesn’t stop there. He encourages us to get up, turn back to him, and get going again. Jesus doesn’t want failure to define us; he wants us to push through our failures (which are many, right?) and to simply keep following him in the midst of them.
Hope that’s an encouragement to you! If you’ve fallen off track with e100 or anything else, here’s to all of us together picking ourselves up, getting back on track, and pushing through in our desire to hear from God every day in 2014.