We have all heard the expression "four letter words". There was a time when "four letter words" were held to be shameful, or at the very least in poor taste. Whether communicating in private conversation or public discourse, they were generally shunned. We all know the ones I’m referring to. The ones once considered vulgar and demeaning to the one speaking them, notwithstanding those to whom these words were spoken TO.
There is another four letter word that has caused much more shame, discouragement, recrimination, and mental anguish perhaps than all those other words put together. That word is: "FAIL"!
Some have heard this four letter word used to describe their whole lives! "You failed in grade school, you failed in high school, you were a FAILURE in sports", etc., etc. And the one reference to failure that carries the heaviest weight in our world, "you failed in your job", or "you failed in business". Or, "you failed in your marriage". And then the mother of all failure condemnations, "your whole life is just one BIG FAILURE!". It is certainly bad enough for others to say such words about some else, but how much more damaging when we say these things about ourselves - and believe them! Often children in school are scared and damaged for life by criticisms and false judgments made by otherwise well intentioned teachers who fail to discern a speaking, hearing, or mental handicap. Such mistakes can often contribute to a lifetime of failure - at least as perceived by others. Some manage to somehow rise above it. Others never do. Some would sum up their lives as this poem so succinctly states:
"Waisted life, Waisted years; Waisted memories, Waisted tears"
What a sad commentary this feeling would be to someone who feels their whole life has been a failure. But there is "failure" - and then there is FAILURE, which is really SUCCESS - as we will see later in this article. Faulure can be a very subjective soncept, often formed in the eye of the beholder. But God can take anything that was, or is, and transform it into that which never was, or is not.
Failure is defined by various value systems, differing as to cultural settings, backgrounds, etc. What is failure in the western world often is not considered so much so in other parts of the world and visa versa, although this is swiftly changing due to the shrinking of the world into a more monolithic state. Abraham Lincoln’s numerous failures have often been referred to in order to show that just not giving up is the key to success in business. However, it must be remembered that he never did really "succeed" in business, but finally succeeded in a different endeavor - politics. And even then, there were initial failures.
There is one failure in history that, at least to this writer, is perhaps the greatest rags-to-riches, failure-to-success story of all time. One reason for this is the enormity of the distance and contrast between the two extremes. At first thought one might think of Adam and Eve as the worst failure of all time. But where is the success? And no doubt about it - that was a terrible failure. It is a failure that God has ordained in His infinite wisdom to affect all humanity. There could be a "now but not yet" aspect to their story someday. God's time will tell. And there are others - many others - recorded in the Bible, which is beyond the scope of this writing. This one person's failure has a very happy ending! Most of us like happy endings. I love movies with happy endings, and really do not like any that do not have happy endings. Those are "failure" movies to me. But the movie in which this person plays a major role has a wonderful, even thrilling, happy ending.
He seems to have made many wrong choices in his life. We do know the events of his life - in fact, we know virtually nothing but the ending. But judging from where he ended up, undoubtedly he made very few good choices in his life. He became a complete "FAILURE" before the happy ending. Apparently he had made SO MANY mistakes, and took SO MANY wrong turns. Perhaps, as many are, he was often a victim of circumstances. Perhaps his environment and inherited generational distortions, childhood influences and experiences molded and virtually set him up for his failure. Perhaps he had an undiscerning or uncaring teacher. We have no way of knowing for sure. We just have the prima fascia evidence about his fate.
But this "failure" was given a second chance. A second chance - to do it right this time. With THIS second chance, he could undo that which needed undone. He could "unring the bell". And we all know that a bell can never be "unrung". But you see, God can take anything that was, or is, and transform it into that which never was, or is not. How thankful we should be that He is limitless and infinite!
Perhaps by now, you are ahead of me. Yes - the "thief on the cross"...
But he is no longer a thief. His past life of apparent failures has been CANCELLED. His wrongs have been made right. His injustices have been made just. All of the insecurity, the bad breaks, the wrong choices are now AS IF THEY NEVER WERE. How often he must have been compelled to do the wrong thing, imprisoned by his fallen nature. Regardless of whether he knew better, or whether he was tempted, or pressured, or was just at the wrong place at the wrong time, a victim of time and chance, all of that has been UNDONE - blotted out.
All the regrets, the guilty conscience, and the feeling of helplessness while hanging there awaiting death.. are now truly things of the past - and more than that. They are just GONE! - as though they never occurred at all. All the enigmas, and contradictions, all that happened to him that he could not understand, that just made no sense, all that brought him to that place of repentance on a cross. But in an instant - it has been resolved, transformed and reconciled by the words of the only One who could be his only hope. All was set right. Everything was changed. He is not a FAILURE anymore!
"Then he said to Jesus, Lord, remember me when you come in Your kingly glory! And He answered him, Truly I tell you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise."- (Luke 23:42-43 - Amplified Bible)
HE SAID THE RIGHT THING - TO THE RIGHT PERSON - AT THE RIGHT TIME! He finally got it right. SUCCESS - at last...
Do you feel like a failure? - You are MORE than a success, even more than a CONQUERING warrior (Romans 8:37) - IF you have turned from your own way to God's way through Jesus Christ. (Mark 8:34-38) God counts those who have put their trust in Him, and strive to obey Him, as someone they have never been yet, and what they have done as never having been done. Take all of the past - whatever it may be, and lay it at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ - and leave it there. ...(Isaiah 1:18) You have done the right thing - You have "said the right thing - to the right Person - at the right time"! (Psalm 136:1)
From now on, it is as though it never was. Now is your new beginning. (Jeremiah 31:33-34)