Motivation is a very powerful virtue. When studying the life of successful people it becomes evident they were able to overcome failure and be successful because of motivation.
Consider Colonel Harland Sanders. The early years of his life were filled with failure you might think he was cursed. But his life was driven by one simple belief that motivated him to keep trying. ‘It’s never too late to pursue your dreams.’ Today he is known as the founder of the highly successful fast food restaurant chain ‘Kentucky Fried Chicken’ better known as KFC.
Do you feel useless and a great failure today? If you do I want to share with you four truths about failure from John 21:1-25 to motivate you to get up and going again.
1. Failure can’t kill Your Edge
The Gospel of John is about the divinity of Christ. Hence John is very keen on elaborating on Jesus’ resurrection. Apart from Mary Magdalen’s testimony (John 20:11-18), he has recorded 3 different encounters (John 20:19-22; 24-29) the disciples had with the risen Lord. In this passage, John describes another post-resurrection encounter.
In John 21:3 Peter says ‘I am going fishing’. In Greek, however, the verse sounds like ‘Simon Peter said, I am going back to fishing’. Peter followed Jesus for 3 years and yet denied Jesus three times. Peter believed he was a failure and useless to the Lord. He decided to return to his former profession.
Peter’s behavior mustn’t surprise us. After all, he was an ordinary man. What amazes us is the response of the six that were with him. They said ‘We’ll come too’. Even in failure Peter still had not lost his edge.
On March 26, 1992, Mike Tyson was charged with rape and sentenced to six years in prison. He didn’t practice while in prison and was released after three years. However, in his first ‘comeback fight’ Tyson knocked out his opponent Peter Mcneeley within 86 seconds!
Like Peter, all of us want to go back to fishing at some point in life. When it happens remember that the God who called you is faithful (1 Thessalonians 5:24). Failure cannot disqualify you in his eyes. Continue to serve him even when you feel like everything is over because failure can’t kill the edge God has given you.
2. Failure can’t kill the Presence
The disciples hoped fishing will help them cope with Jesus’ absence. But the opposite was true. Just then in John 21:4-5 a stranger walking by the beach asked them whether they have any fish. They were preoccupied with their failure so much they didn’t recognize it was Jesus.
Have you noticed that Jesus appeared to the disciples every time they hit the rock bottom? Sometimes he even charged them with a particular task (John 20:17; 20:19, Luke 24:13-33; 24:36-49). When obeyed they saw his presence. In this case, Jesus told them to cast the net from the right side of the boat. It was only after that they recognized Jesus.
A man had a dream. He was walking on the beach with the Lord. As they walked he saw flashbacks of his life in the sky. For each flashback, there was a pair or two footprints in the sand. It bothered him, however, to see there was only one pair of footprints in the sand in the most difficult times of his life. He said ‘Lord, you promised not to leave me if I walk with you. But there’s only one set of footprints in the sand in the most trying periods of my life. The Lord said ‘The years you have seen only one set of footprints is when I carried you.’
Failure can’t take God’s presence away from us because He doesn’t desert us when we fail, (Deuteronomy 31:6; Hebrews 13:5; Matthew 28:20). But sometimes it takes obedience to see his presence clearly. Hence we must learn to listen and obey. God is speaking to you right now. Will you obey his voice?
3. Failure can’t kill God’s Love
The disciples rushed to the shore the moment they recognized Jesus, (John 21:7-8). It’s hard to say what crossed their minds at that moment. They might as well fear a rebuke from the Lord or he will outburst with disappointment. But Jesus knew the men were frustrated, tired, and starving. He demonstrated the depth and the length of his unfailing love once again by serving them breakfast on the beach, (John 21:9-12). Failure could not come between Jesus and his disciples.
The Nilavarai area in the Jaffna district is very popular among tourists because of a certain natural underground water well. That well is so deep people in Jaffna call it the ‘Nilavarai Bottomless Well’. Apparently, the well is connected to many underground sources of water it doesn’t deplete even in the seasons of severe drought.
Failure can’t make God love us less because His love is like a bottomless well. It doesn’t end. Nothing we do can make it dry. He knows our struggles, (Hebrews 4:15) We need to remind ourselves of that constantly. That will help us survive in times of Failure.
4. Failure can’t kill Your Call
In the eyes of man, Peter didn’t live up to his calling. He was unreliable. Unfaithful. Ineffective. Quick to ‘throw in the towel’. Not worth it. Disqualified for leadership. Perhaps Peter himself felt that way. But that’s not the way God thinks of us. For people, failure is the end. For God, it’s just the beginning because he is the King of Restoration!
The dictionary defines restoration as repairing or renovation, (a building, work of art, etc.) so as to return it to its original condition. In the eyes of man, Peter deserved nothing but to be humiliated in public. Yet in John 21:15-19 after they had breakfast Jesus restored Peter in public. We know Peter was never the same after this for history says he was glad to suffer martyrdom for the sake of Jesus.
I enjoy watching TV in my leisure. One of my favorite reality shows those days was ‘Kings of Restoration.’ The show featured Rick Dale and his crew restoring ancient rusty stuff back to how it looked when they were new. In the show, they restored classic cars, vintage gas pumps, gramophones, antique toys, and many other things. Rick and the crew are so good at what they do that sometimes customers couldn’t believe they are looking at the same thing. Consider the popcorn machine featured below for an example.
Failure can’t kill our calling. But it can prevent us from living up to our full potential. When that happens we need someone to restore us. Restoration is serious business. While there are many people capable of restoring damaged objects God alone is capable of restoring a damaged human being, (Psalm 23:3). God is still in the business of restoration. He wants to restore you at this very moment. All you gotta do is let him.
Nobody wants to fail. But it’s always a part of life. In my sermon tonight I shared four truths about failing just to motivate you to keep pushing even in the face of utter failure. In conclusion, I would like to summarize those four points into one statement. That is every time we fail We need to remember failure is not lethal because the Bible shows our failures can never come between us and our God. So don’t quit!
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