The First Time
“If the Lord fails me at this time, it will be the first time.” -George Mueller
The reality is, my failures don’t reflect the God who orchestrated them. I can, and do, fail constantly. I think A is the path when B was it all along. I think X was the opportunity but Y was the better one. I think and I think and I think… and this analysis paralysis doesn’t actually reflect the grand design of God’s faithfulness. Or, at least, not yet.
When I was a kid I was raised in a tradition that was quasi-obsessed with the idea of “missing God.” You see, you could and probably would at some point, make a mistake that wasn’t what God wanted. You would take the wrong job or buy the wrong house or date the wrong person. And God would be tut-tutting you from on high, His arms crossed, a look of smug derision on His face. So then the question that pushed us to nearly destructive and obsessive moments was, “How do I know what God wants?!”
It was serious. I can recall hearing people I considered spiritual leaders, at the time, tell me something I had done wasn’t God’s will because it ended poorly. It cost me money. It cost me opportunity. These same people were constantly in a nearly random sort of hamster wheel of knowing God’s will perfectly, or explaining how their difficulties actually did reflect God’s will. One time, and this is a perfectly true story, one of these people invited me to join them in a pyramid scheme. They were convinced this is what God wanted me and my wife, poor as we were at that time, to do. Because this was God’s chance, as though there are just a handful of those, to really bless us.
So like most people, I have scars from my childhood. And there’s a scar there, big and red, that throbs whenever my life gets difficult. “What’s it say?”, you might ask. It says, “What if you’re suffering because God is angry or you messed up?”
I know. I know. I know.
The very idea is so counter-intuitive to the truth of the bible. Job didn’t suffer because he has done something wrong. Paul suffered because he did stuff so well. Jesus suffered and was and is absolutely perfect. The truth of God is that my failure was planned. My moments of grasping to the cliff’s edge are no surprise to a God who loves me, deeply. Every tear that I shed rolls down my cheek on the certain, perfect will of God.
For you, for me, what I must remember in these times when the rains of life come and that scar begins to itch and ache is that Jesus is better than all my sufferings and that if God were to fail me, this would be the first time ever.