When We Have Failed (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

Have you ever failed God? Perhaps you are a believer who committed an egregious sin and feel overwhelmed with guilt. You may feel disqualified to be used by God. Maybe you feel like the tax collector in Luke 18. He stood far off by himself and would not even look up because he didn’t feel worthy to approach God saying, “God have mercy on me, a sinner.” If you are reading this and feel like that way, know that God has placed this message on my heart especially for you.

K.P. Yohannan president of Gospel for Asia, 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.

Robinson became a believer at the age of 23 and shortly thereafter, wrote this hymn. Unfortunately in his later years, Robinson wandered from the faith to pursue the pleasures of the world, and he began to live a very sinful life. One day, he was sitting beside 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. 

Yohannan writes,

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.

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.

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 – 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!