Good Morning! For those of you visiting with us today, my name is Eli. For those of you who are regular attenders… my name is Eli.
I’m super excited about being here to share with you this morning. This is an honor and a privilege to be here this morning.
I am a failure. I’m broken, beat up, used up, spit out, loser, disappointment, inadequate, incapable, insufficient… a failure. Let me try to help you understand how I got here…
I grew up in a Christian home, with an ordained dad & mom. I graduated high school and went to Bible college. You ever notice how when kids who grow up in the church graduate high school and then their faith is challenged? My faith wasn’t really challenged until I was about 30 with a wife and 2 kids. The first time my faith was challenged was as I served at a church in Gainesville that really chewed me up and spit me out. That experience caused me to question who I was, my abilities, my self-worth, self-confidence, my purpose in life, and my calling. I was left without self-confidence, without courage and without belief in myself to accomplish anything (particularly in ministry), feeling like a failure.
Lucky for me, I was pretty quickly hired as a caseworker for DCF, which prohibited me from really processing and working through the feelings of failure this church experience created within me. I really loved working as a case manager, it created in me a passion for the broken and screwed up families around me.
But you see, I sorta felt like Ezekiel. You remember he was in training to be a priest. And before that role could really take off Jerusalem was sacked by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians in 586 B.C., and his chance at being a priest utterly destroyed when the temple was blown up.
So I got into case management and saw the underbelly of the American family. The abuse that occurs is sickening and inhuman. However, when exposed with this tragedy, I felt like this was my calling in life, that God was calling me to work in this field to be a ray of light in darkness. I felt as though God had prepared me for this role. After about 4 years at this job it was taken away from me, when I had a supervisor that decided he didn’t like me and formed a personal mission to fire me. Finally, when over-worked and stressed out I reacted to him in a way that gave him the opening he was looking for to fire me. I felt like Jeremiah who said:(Jer.20v7) 7 O LORD, You have deceived me and I was deceived; You have overcome me and prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all day long; Everyone mocks me.
In case you missed what just happened there, he called God a liar. I felt that way. I had 2 careers taken away from me. When I say they were taken away from me, what I mean is I had failed in both. With ministry, I failed in the sense that I couldn’t play the game in such a way to keep a position successfully at a church and I failed in case management in the sense that I couldn’t get along with my supervisor in a way that would keep him from firing me. So here I was married with 2 kids and jobless. I was broken, beat up, used up, throw out, a failure, a loser, worthless, and depressed. I spent a solid 2-3 years depressed and I mean depressed to the point where I was crippled, unable to move forward in life.
I was a failure.
Slowly, God began to awaken me and assist me in realizing it’s ok to be a failure…
Look at Peter, one of my heroes from the Scriptures: He was a failure’s failure. The only thing he didn’t fail at was failing. A few examples:
- Walking on Water – or should we say almost drowning in the water?
- Cut off dude’s ear… why the ear?!? Was he was just that bad with a sword, that it was completely accidental?
- Denied Jesus 3x
He constantly failed and was constantly re-used by God. Constantly restored, constantly redeemed. As I looked at Peter I realized, even in my failures God didn’t view me as worthless. I recalled Romans 5v8 that says,
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Or what about 1 Cor. 6v20,
For you have been bought with a price.
Where does that leave us? It leaves us with a God who loves us, who values us & our failures. God loves us even though we fail. We am his creation, his children and as such he values us enough to do whatever is necessary to restore, redeem and return us to him.
Even though I fail.
And maybe to some degree because I fail.
God uses our failures as the space to make his strength evident. When we realize our inabilities, our shortcomings, that’s when we have the eyes to see the power of God and how it is perfected.
Check out 2 Cor. 12v7-10,
7 Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself!8 Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me.9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
Really? Our weaknesses, our failures become our source of strength.
God loves failures.
Our biggest failures often become our greatest accomplishments. That’s how I got to H2O. Orlando was the site of my biggest failure. Where I went deep into depression, where I couldn’t find a job, where I almost obliterated my family, where all of my worst fears about myself became my reality. God is using my biggest failure to be my greatest accomplishment.
I wanna close with this comparison:
You remember Judas, he sold Jesus out for 30 pieces of silver. He failed. Instead of allowing God to redeem him he took his own life.
What about Paul, who made it his life purpose to kill every Christian. He failed. But he allowed God to redeem him and he was the one who brought the Gospel to the Gentiles.
Are you gonna let God use your failures? Are gonna be a Judas or a Paul?