It was a recipe guaranteed to turn out right. But it did not. The teacher of this day of foods’ classes said that we would be making a successful and delicious recipe, “Never Fail Fudge”. Of all the classes all day long, our group’s, and only our group’s, recipe failed. I don’t remember if it was too hard, too runny, too tasteless…but I remember the disappointment at being the only group to have ‘failed’ at making the never-fail recipe.
We have all known what it is like to have failed at something. And we also know what it is like to have someone or something fail us. It is inevitable as fallible, human beings who live in a broken and fallen and failing world. We encounter failure at various times and places throughout our stay on earth.
The Good News is this: “Jesus Never Fails”. I remember seeing a plaque daily in our apartment as I grew up with those three words on it. It would take me decades of living and failing and others failing me to recognize the wonder and truth of those simple words.
Unfailing = unflagging, infallible, completely dependable, certain, constant, unchanging, not falling short of expectation…and more. Put that into your thinking as you read this verse from Psalm 119:7: “May Your unfailing love be my comfort, according to Your promise to Your servant.”
There are so very many verses with the duet of beautiful, calming words unfailing love in the Bible. I bought a vintage cardboard hanging in navy and silver that reads “Jesus Never Fails” for I do not want to forget that Jesus has Never-fail Love recipe for my life in Him.
We have had two parsonages where we had wood-burning fireplaces. I love the flames and crackle of burning logs especially in the dead of winter. But cleaning up the ashes, well, a rather thankless and messy job. So I agree with this proverb which says “When making a fire people like to join you, when cleaning the ashes, you are often alone.” African Proverb
Ashes defined after knowing that it is the dark rubbish left after complete burning is over: ruin; something that symbolizes grief, repentance, or humiliation.
I think that it is good for me to recall that mankind was made from the “dust of the ground” and it is just prudent thinking to remember “dust you are and to dust you shall return.” (Gen. 2:7 & 3:19) It is humbling to know that we are here on this earth for a very short time indeed – no matter how many years are lived out.
Not only does God know our frame but “He earnestly remembers and imprints on His heart that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:14)
This is a very good thing because there have been times when my life was nothing but ashes and I thought that I was burned out to the point of hopelessness. But here is the absolute truth: “ The Lord raises the poor out of the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap and the dung hill.” (Psalm 113::7) And as if that were not enough Isaiah proclaimed that He (God) will exchange our ashes for beauty. The truth of God stuck Job with such intensity that he had to repent in ‘dust and ashes’ from his position of humble arrogance about who he was and what he thought he deserved.
Alistar Begg says it well when he says “At best we are but clay, animated dust; but viewed as sinners, we are monsters indeed. Let it be published in heaven as a miracle that the Lord Jesus should set His heart’s love upon people like us.”
I want the rest of my animated dust days to find me reveling in the love of Christ and reflecting the beauty of my Creator!
“We His children
In God’s tender care
Arms around us
He is with us everywhere
When the path leads through the night
And every dream has all but died
We can fall into His love
He has overcome the world
He has overcome the world
He has opened Heaven’s door’
Conquered death forevermore
Peace He gives us
Not as this world knows
On the darkest, desperate road
Tears may wet the ground below
Sorrow come to steal our hope
But we can turn into His grace
And hide away
In this world, we’ll have troubles
Burdens and scars
But we have a King
Who has been where we are
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Thank you, Shannon Wexelberg, for writing/singing a song that speaks to my
sometimes broken and often challenged heart. God is my Valentine!
Excited?… Do you see that the word exit exists in the word excited? We are about to exit a church we have served for ten years and a denomination we have served for forty years. We are moving away from a town/area we have learned to enjoy and partake of its many offerings. Moving. It is a lot of emotional and physical work. So I was surprised at how often one word keeps popping up in conversations and questions people ask us.
That one word that I am somehow surprised about is the word excited. Generally when we know that we are moving from a church/parsonage, the last word I would put with parting from a congregation/town is “excited”. But now that we are “retiring” all kinds of people ask me “So are you excited?” About the house we bought. About the future of no schedule such as we have known. About being able to travel and pick and choose what we will do daily. About being closer to our sons and their wives and our grandson.
So I am asking myself, “Am I excited?” The answer every time in the past has been a clear ‘no, I am not excited about moving’. But now I want to examine where my heart is on this move into retirement. I have grown more in love with God. I trust His Sovereignty completely. I know that He is faithful to His Word. I know that He has told me “I am not shrinking your world, I am enlarging it”. So I am asking God to help me be excited about this upcoming chapter of our lives.
“Remember that I commanded you to be strong and brave. Don’t be afraid, because the Lord Your God will be with you everywhere you go.” (Joshua 1:9) God is going with us on this move! How exciting an exit is that?