Brodie was writing about failure this morning, particularly in the context of thinking about Christianity. As someone who feels strongly driven to strive for excellence, this connection to failure is an important thing to remind myself of. When I get disappointed my own inability to do something or find myself grumbling about other people’s shortcomings, I’m in danger of disconnecting from grace and sinking to a baser existence. That’s particularly true when I’m convinced that it’s other people’s failings that are to blame for my lack of success, forgetting every evidence that I’m living in a fallen world where the roses have thorns and the tigers have teeth.
Probably because of that glimmer of self-awareness, I find some of Paul’s words to the church at Corinth important to re-read from time to time:
Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of “the brightest and the best” among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these “nobodies” to expose the hollow pretensions of the “somebodies”? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we have–right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start–comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. That’s why we have the saying, “If you’re going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God.” (1 Corinthians 1:26-31, The Message)
Since the choice seems to be either to rely on my own strength or cast my lot in with God and his ragamuffins, I’ll opt for the latter. I know what I can do but I also know there are plenty of things that are beyond me. If that means bearing graciously with failure – from others and myself – then I think I can learn to do that as long as I keep these things in mind.