When We Have Failed – What Next? (part 1)
“(14) Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. (15) For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. (16) Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” – Hebrews 4:14-16
K.P. Yohannan, President of Gospel For Asia, leads this ministry which supports thousands of national missionaries and congregations all throughout South Asia. He wrote a book entitled, When We Have Failed—What Next? In this book, he tells the story of Robert Robinson, the 18th-century Methodist preacher who penned the words of the famous hymn “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” You probably know the words:
Come Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Robertson became a believer at the age of 23 due to the preaching of George Whitefield, and shortly thereafter, he wrote this hymn. Unfortunately, in his later years, Robinson wandered from the faith and began to live a very sinful life. One day during this time, he was riding in a stagecoach beside a woman who was deeply engrossed in a book. When she came across a lyric she found particularly beautiful, she turned to Robinson and said, “I am reading something wonderful. What do you think about it?” This is what she read to him:
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love.
She had no idea she was sitting right next to the very man who had penned those words years earlier. The familiar words reminded Robinson of the man he once was, and he broke down. With tears in eyes he replied, “Madam, I am the poor, unhappy man who composed that hymn many years ago. I would give a thousand worlds, if I had them, to enjoy those feelings once again.” As God so often does, He used this encounter to draw Robinson back into His presence so that he could experience God’s grace and mercy once again. And that is what I want you to experience if you are carrying a load of guilt.
Doesn’t it give you hope when you read through the Bible and realize that time and time again the spiritual giants through whom God worked were flawed men and women? Consider men like Moses, David, and Jacob, just to name a few. Remember, Moses committed murder? Remember David, the man after God’s own heart, fell into adultery and then murdered the woman’s husband to cover it up? And Jacob…his very name means deceiver, and deceive he did! He was a crook who lied to his own father, stole the blessing that was meant for his brother, and then lived a life of deceit. In spite of this, God referred to Himself as “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” Ever wondered why God didn’t refer to Himself as “the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel?” After all, He changed Jacob’s name to Israel, which means, “Prince of God.” Why does God associate His name with a cheat who wasted two decades of his life trying to do things his own way?
Yohannan writes, “Through His name, His very identity, God wants to say to you and me, ‘I am still the God who makes failures into princes of God. I remain the God who takes broken lives—people with multiple divorces, sick in body because of sin, in prison for decades, labeled as losers, crazy folk nobody wants, outcasts without hope—and turns them into something beautiful.’” Yohannan goes on to write:
There is no sin too great,
God cannot forgive it.
There is no loss,
He cannot restore.
There is no scar,
He cannot heal.
There is no distance you can go,
His grace cannot reach.
There is nothing—absolutely nothing–
to stop His love and mercy for you.
If there is breath in your being,
there is hope.
There is hope.
When you examine the lineage of Christ, you will discover a host of sinners. Consider this: Judah, who was the son of Jacob, had an affair with a prostitute that was, in reality, his daughter-in-law. Her name was Tamar. The son conceived by this adulterous affair was Perez, who was the great ancestor of King David, who himself was an adulterer. Judah, Tamar, Perez, and David are all in the line of Christ, as is Rahab, another prostitute. Furthermore, one of the most evil Kings in the Old Testament was Manasseh. He sacrificed his own sons to the god Molech. It doesn’t get much worse than that! Yet, he too is in the line Christ, and I believe that all of these people will be in heaven. Why? Because they all repented and God is a God of grace and mercy.
Do you know why Jesus came to earth in the first place? John 3:17 states, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” Jesus came to save sinners. In Mark 2 when the “Pharisees saw Jesus eating with ‘sinners’ and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: Why does he eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” On hearing this Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Isaiah 61:1-3 informs us that He [Jesus] was sent to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners… to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.
Understand this truth: God loves us and wants to put us on display. Whatever moral failure you are dealing with, my hope and prayer is that you will experience God’s “streams of mercy, never ceasing.” The second stanza in Robinson’s hymn contains these words:
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure safely to arrive at home.
God promises that He will be faithful to complete the work He has begun in each of us, and we can look forward to the day when we, who are God’s chosen, arrive safely home. Until then, if you are living without hope because of some moral failure in your life, the rest of this devotional series will outline three steps you need to take to experience His streams of mercy. Stay tuned. Amen!