The sleek greyhound walked by Carl and raised his head high, letting the small bully know who was the dominant canine. Knowing Carl, I held the leash a little tighter and was not disappointed when he tried to charge at the hound. But to Carl’s dismay, all he could do was let out a piercing howl to let all of us know that he wasn’t happy about his failed attempt to get in the larger dog’s face. Time and time again, Carl has tried to break free from the leash and engage the dogs that we pass. And each time, he fails.
I have failed at a lot of things in my life. Relationships, sporting competitions, business endeavors, and many other pursuits. And with each failure, I have learned a lesson that I believe has brought me closer to God.
Over the course of my life, I have come to see failure as a way to direct me down a different path. A clear example of this was when I retired from teaching and I was looking for some tutoring positions. I put my name out into the community and thought for sure that I would get several jobs. But the jobs didn’t come. I had failed and initially it truly disturbed me. I began questioning myself and couldn’t understand why I had not experienced the success that came so easily to me in the past.
I have also found with failure comes a wave of emotions that can plague my thoughts for days. Insecurity and a strong urge to flee usually lives in the depths of my soul until there is some form of resolution. It is when these emotions take over that I have to look to God’s Word for some form of peace.
It is amazing to think of the number of failures described in the Bible. And I am thankful for each and every one of them. Joseph had big plans with his new multicolored coat and ended up in a pit. Jonah had his mind made up that he wasn’t going to Nineveh and he took a ride in the stomach of a fish for three days. And then there was Naomi who followed her husband to Moab and found herself a widow and childless. All had failed miserably to fulfill their own dreams but ultimately were used in God’s incredible will.
My ultimate hope in the face of my failures is to be used by God in a very unique way. This thought brings comfort to me and gives me a new insight on what could be a negative experience. As for Carl, he is blessed to be able to shrug off all his failures and focus only on the next dog, squirrel, or rabbit that walks across his path. And if this little dog can move forward, I figure I can too.