November 20, 2017

Pastoral Nuggets: Learning How to Lose

Brother-Aaron-236x300The things that matter most in life are today’s successes and victories – not yesterday’s failures and defeats. And if there is to be any joy in our lives, it will come as a result of disciplining ourselves to focus more on our victories and successes than upon our failures and defeats.

As with a magnifying glass, what we choose to focus upon is what will become big in our lives. I think the Psalmist understood this when he wrote in Psalms 34:3 (KJV), “O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together.”

In what now seems as if it was another lifetime, I had a gentleman in my church who struggled with the demons of alcohol.  I had the privilege of leading him to Jesus. I believe he was saved.

However, he was an alcoholic. And for whatever the reason, God did not choose to immediately deliver him from his alcoholism. It was a continual uphill struggle for him.  And quite often, the demons won.

However, with every defeat came the opportunity for a new beginning.  And time and time again he started over. I remember attending an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting with him. He had invited me there to watch as he received a chip for maintaining his sobriety for a certain length of time. I can’t remember now what the specific length of time was.  It may have been a week, a month, or six months. Who knows?  The length of time isn’t really the point.

The point is that on that night he was sober and was meeting with a group of fellow travelers, who were taking the journey with him, not to bemoan all the failures, heartaches, setbacks, and disappointments caused by his alcoholism, but to celebrate the fact that at that moment – he was sober.

No, this night didn’t erase all his past failures.  This night did not guarantee future success.  However, this night was a time of celebration focused upon the victory of that day.  On that night he magnified and celebrated what was really important – the victory of that day.  And one day and one victory at a time – he built a changed life.

There is an attribute of genuine Christianity that we don’t often hear preached or taught.  That is the fact that genuine Christianity not only teaches us how to win – it teaches us how to lose.  Salvation doesn’t always deliver us from our demons.  Yes, salvation secures us a home in heaven and the ever abiding presence of God through the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Indeed, as the old song says “He walks with us and talks with us” but more often than any of us care to admit, the demons we struggle with – win.  But it is from the depths of our failure that we learn how to reach the heights of success.

I heard somebody say it this way, “God never wastes a hurt.”  The truth of the matter is quite simply, we can never learn to succeed until we have learned how to fail.  The Bible is filled with Biblical characters, Heroes of the Faith, who failed miserably in their walk with God, but of whom Hebrews 11:34(KJV) says, “… Out of weakness were made strong …”  Hear me; failing does not make us failures.  When we know how to fail, failure makes us strong.

We only become failures when we surrender the plan, calling, and vision God has for our lives to the demons with which we struggle.  Genuine Christianity teaches us to learn from our failures that we may become the person God desires us to be.

In 2nd Corinthians 4:6-9 (KJV) Paul said it this way, “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed …”

I heard the story of a little boy who loved to wrestle with his father.  His father weighed 250+ pounds and the little boy only weighed about 40 pounds. When the father got enough he would simply roll over on his son pinning him to the floor.  While pinned down, the boy would say through gritted teeth and clenched fists, “Even when I’m on the bottom, I’m still winning!”  So it is with us as Christians.

Even when we lose, we’re still winning, because when you know how to lose, each loss is a stepping stone to victories beyond our wildest imagination.  Thank God that in our weaknesses – He makes us strong!

You could win a great victory this Sunday by making sure your family is in church with you!

 

Brother Aaron

 

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