Linda was a voracious reader. She would bar all chances of retiring to bed if she felt unaccomplished with her ‘brain update’. You would probably think there was an intention to eradicate any feeling of hopelessness by how rigorous her studies was; on the contrary, her fame was at stake. If you needed one of the brightest and most confident students of JETS High school to make up a three-man squad for the Regional Science and Math Quiz Contest, you had reached her.
It was the Final of finals. Hundreds of people poured in to witness the keenly contested match between the participating schools. The competition had reached its last round, the last question for the day to be attempted. “Wrong? But I—But you asked—…wait, what?” She stuttered. Her team had managed to make it to the finals but she had her own agenda; she wanted to be that kid who won the big games and became the legend of the day, the crowd chanting her name wildly in the background. Except this time around, she squashed all chances of winning because she decided to go her way with the response. This time she had blown it!
But the rather odd proposition: she had been recalled into the team two weeks after her ‘heroic’ move had gone bad. The reaction was entirely different from what she anticipated. She had lost them the game and they had every right to put her on blast. It was not until a chat over pizza that she realized why none was upset. Apparently, there was something more to the contest than just winning the ultimate prize.
Failure comes in many flavors and this makes our story quite different from one another as we sit to recount them. Yours may have been a lapse of judgment, a failure to respond to an emergency or perhaps failure to conduct oneself in a decent manner—the list is endless as there is no shortage of ways to fail. Nevertheless, one thing is common: failure is like the taste of the bitterest root on earth. It carries with it some kind of embarrassment that literally envelopes you in thick fog. Like floodlights piercing the darkness, they etch painful marks against our memories constantly reminding us of how our shoulders would forever bear that shame.
The Bible records the greatest failure of all time, the story of how we plunged a dagger into our Father’s heart by committing the highest order of treason in the beautiful Garden of Eden. The guilt of wanting to be equal with The Most High would forever haunt us until we returned to the dust from whence we came. We say with the prodigal son, “I am no longer worthy to be called your son”. What a tragedy! The poison of Self-glory had warped our entire system. “Please, put us out of our misery!”, we ached to be wiped off the face of this earth.
Like Linda’s story, the response to our cry was different. Despite the grave consequence of our disobedience, the King descended from His dwelling place, fought tirelessly to regain what we carelessly flung out the window and then presented it to us again. While we desperately sought to be our own gods, He took on our very own nature, sucked every bit of the poison from us into Himself and neutralized death’s sting on the Cross of Calvary. This He did while we were totally excluded from the benefits of His Kingdom as we could only but gaze from afar as our King dirtied His robes just to redefine our original purpose.
Without evil, how may we have acknowledged the manifestation of good? Without sin, how may we have comprehended the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness? It is not to be misconstrued as advocating for bad things to happen before we realize the value of a person or thing. It is said that one truly appreciates what it means to have a ‘peace of mind’ when his neighbor (who mercilessly plays loud music) relocates to another vicinity. The cloak of silence drapes his home for the first time. In the same way, I feel we needed to fall flat on our face to remember that which we had so easily forgotten: That, the chief end of man is to bask in the glory of God’s righteousness, peace and joy rendering worship to Him forever. Just like the game of baseball: WE NEEDED A STRIKEOUT TO REMEMBER THAT.