Summary: This sermon is about surviving our failures in order to claim our future
The Art of Surviving Failure
-Pastor A. L. Torrence, Cross of Life Lutheran Church
I have heard one preacher say that, “to laugh is to risk appearing the fool. To weep is to risk appearing sentimental. To reach out for another is to risk involvement. To expose feelings is to risk exposing our true self. To place your ideas, your dreams before the crowd, is to risk loss. To love is to risk not being loved in return. To live is to risk dying. To hope is to risk despair. To try at all is to risk failure. But to risk we must, because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.”(Pastor Erin Cole, First Baptist Church, www.sermoncentral.com)
The man who risks nothing in life will die having lost all. The woman who takes no chances will always hope for a second chance. Many of us have nothing because we risked nothing. We have no hope because we live constantly discouraged. We have no joy because pain has made us bitter. We have no love because trials have soured our ability to trust. Our dreams have been deferred. We have fallen and fail to get back up. We’ve compounded one mistake by allowing the fear of failure to swallow up our vision. We have failed at the art of surviving failure. We have aborted an opportunity to birth a great achievement.
Some think that failure and surrender is synonymous with the will of God. We think that failure is defined as making a mistake or error in judgment. But, failure is not determined by the mistake you made. Failure is based upon how you respond to that mistake. Failure is determined if and when you give up on something you’ve been attempting to accomplish. Being a teenage or unwed parent does not make you a failure. No failure is determined in how you will now care for that child. Getting hooked on drugs or alcohol doesn’t classify you as a loser. But refusing to get help or treatment can cause you to lose our on reality. Your failed marriage is no reflection on your ability to love. No failure is determined on how you now used that love to reach others. Your response to failure determines your level of success and accomplishment.
Successful people know how to handle failure. Those who left significant strokes on the canvas of time knew how to deal with major disappointments. Come on now, it took Albert Einstein to fail at math before he realized e=mc2. Isaac Newton had to endure the falling of an apple on his head before discovering the theory of gravity. Josephine Baker had to fail at being a success in segregated America before going to Paris and claiming her fame. Michael Jordan had to fail at making his high school basketball team before making the NBA. It is your response to failure that determines your destiny. One can play it safe and never attempt to score. You can follow all the rules and never run after your vision. You can color your life within the boundaries of society and never leave behind a masterpiece that will change your community. But, in the end when death comes knocking at your door, you may find yourself frustrated, angry, and upset because of opportunities never taken; doors never opened, and dreams never pursued. In the words of President Roosevelt, “No man is worth his salt who is not ready at all times to risk his body, to risk his well-being, to risk his life for a great cause.”
And that’s the message of today’s text. We, as a people, need to know how to handle risk and failure. We need to understand that our God would want us to take a risk in order to achieve. (Tell some someone –take a risk) God continually challenges every believer to cast his bread upon the waters, so that it may be found after many days. Let go of that which you depend on and watch God return much more. (Tell someone to let it go). We need to understand that in order to mount up on wings as an eagle – we have to leave the comforts of the nest. And God is like a papa eagle that pushes his young eagle off its nest in order to teach it to soar; and I don’t know about you but I made up my mind that I am ready to soar. I’ve being walking with some people who are ready to faint. I’ve been running with some folk who are getting weary. I’ve made up my mind that it’s time for me to get above the crowd and begin to fly. (Ask your neighbor-Are you ready to fly?)
Let’s look at the text. Once again we find the guardian of heaven using one of life’s ordinary routines to give a people in need a relevant word. We find him meeting up with some fishermen who have failed at catching some fish. And Jesus, being the problem-fixer that he is, simply told them to put out a little from the land so he can teach a lesson from their boat. He begins to give them a demonstrative lesson in surviving failures and taking risks. And the amazing thing about it saints is that these brothers were willing to learn. In spite of the fact that they were professional fishermen and didn’t know Jesus from Adam – they were willing to be taught. That’s were many of us have a problem. We feel that nobody can tell us about our situation unless they’ve been were we are. Unless you’ve walked a mile in my shoes, don’t tell me anything. “Can no single man tell me about my marriage.” “Pastor, you do not have children so don’t tell me how to raise mine.” We use the “just like me principle” when it comes to the things of God. You have to be just like me in order to teach me.” Yet, we never require our physician to have cancer in order to tell us how to deal with it. We never tell our lawyers that they have a jail record in order to handle our case. Yet when it comes to “What thus says the Lord,” – we should realize that it’s exactly just that – “What God says.” Not what I say- I’m just repeating the word.