Ugh! Do you ever get that feeling in the pit of your stomach when you stumble upon the memory, person, or place of a previous failure? Even if you try to navigate the situation in a godly way, you can still see your failure face-to-face. In those moments anger, bitterness, or hoplessness can get the better of us--it hits where it hurts. And why does it hurt? Maybe because as much as someone else may have failed, we've failed, too. And so we face up to the fact that God often lets us return to the place of our failures. (And sometimes, when we are without fault, God lets us return to a place of pain for healing.)
I've lately been wondering, and honestly confused, how to navigate my mind around this familiar place. It seems like the same place I've been before. I seem to have the same shortcomings. But I know God has allowed me here. And the result doesn't have to be the same. He has changed me and taught me, so I'm not locked into my past failures. Through grace I get another chance. What seems like the "same old" is really a new opportunity for faith and the extension of the gospel into daily life.
In Joshua 8, that's what God did to the Israelites. The sin of Achan caused the whole Israelite army to flee like squealing girls the first time they faced Ai in battle. Then, fresh after that nasty (and humiliating) beating, God commanded them to return courageously for another try.
Do you notice that God's not questioning the outcome (v.1)? He's confident of what He's chosen to happen to this city. God knows where our hearts need to be, and He leads us there. As we return with Him to the place of our failure, He's not rubbing our face in the mud. We can have courage because He's teaching our hearts to change.
Maybe what looks despairing or frustratingly familiar, or what brings back all the old emotions we once felt, isn't really the same place. God may be helping you navigate through it differently this time--stronger, more sure of the truth, practicing righteousness, etc.
Only you can choose to make the same failure twice. Why not courageously embrace or learn what God would call you to this time? Returning to a place of failure is an opportunity for deeper dependence on the grace you have freely been given through Christ. Let's act on it!
(c) 2010 by Kendra Hinkle.