Your Failures Are Not Final

Mark 4:37-5:1, “And there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up. Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, ‘Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?’ And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Hush, be still.’ And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. And He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?’ They became very much afraid and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?’ They came to the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gerasenes. ”

When I was younger in the faith I was simply fascinated by this account. I could not fathom Jesus’ power over nature. For me, there is something inexplicable about His ability to simply speak to a storm and transform it into perfect calm. Amazing. As I have walked this Christian road for the past two decades I have watched my own perspective change. I am still left speechless by the calming of the storm. But now I find myself even more amazed by Jesus’ power in the lives of His disciples. The real miracles in this story are not those concerned with the natural elements but rather the ones that are focused on human nature.

See, I am one of those people that have a hard time getting past their own failures. I think it started when I was a kid. For years the only word that anyone seemed to be able to speak over my life was the word “potential.” On so many ocassions I stood before well-meaning adults who all voiced the same opinion when they looked at me. “Mr. Lawrence, you need to start living up to your potential…Glenn, you have so much potential…You could be anything you wanted if you would just reach your potential.” Potential. In time, I came to hate the word. To be honest, on most days it still echoes through the corridors of my mind. No matter what I do, no matter the compliments, I still find myself living in the shadows of potential. For me, failure is simply inexcusable. For me, failure is crippling.

For years, I read this account at the end of Mark 4 and I saw only one thing…the disciples’ failure. Rather than trusting Jesus, instead of holding fast to His promise, despite their knowledge of the nearness of the Savior…the disciples panicked. When push came to shove they failed the test. They did not live up to their potential. Understand, I’m not pointing fingers. Had I been one of the 12, I would have been right there with the others. After 42 years I know me. Failing the test is par for the course in my life. Once the storm stopped, I would not have been able to move forward. Sure, the wind and the waves would have stopped raging but now my heart would have been flooded with shame and regret. The end of one storm only gave way to another. But this time the storm would be inside of me. I can even imagine my own thoughts, “Throw me over the side. Tie a rock to my ankles and drown me. Tell me I am being released from service once we reach to shore. Just walk away from me. I have nothing to offer. I am no good. If only I could live up to my potential.”

Now there is where the real miracle takes place. Stay with me for just one more minute. Let’s look at one word at the start of chapter 5. “They came to the other side of the sea,…THEY. Jesus allowed the 12 to finish the journey. His faithfulness was greater than their failure. His love was stronger than their lack. His purposes would never be handicapped by their inability to reach their potential. Jesus still had a plan and a purpose for these men even after they had failed Him. In fact, that point is one that we find throughout the Gospel accounts…a faithful, forgiving Savior who wouldn’t give up on 12 flawed, failing men. Jesus has power over nature. The winds and waves cannot stop Him. But even more amazing…Jesus’ power is greater than my human nature. My failures do not limit Him. Forget potential. Forget the past. As of now, all you can do is move forward. Your failures are not final. In Jesus, you still have a future.

Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”