When We Have Failed What Next?
Chapter 4: Generations Remade
It began with Creation.
Because God is good and everything He does is good, we can safely assume that all He creates is good. So in the beginning when God created heaven and earth, they were good.
Then something went wrong.
Between Genesis 1:1, when out of His goodness God created the heavens and the earth, and Genesis 1:2, something happened. We are informed that what was created became “formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep” (Genesis 1:2).
The Hebrew word used in verse 1 for created is bara, literally meaning just that—creating something out of nothing.1 However, in verse 2, the Hebrew word describing the earth being formless, empty and covered in darkness is haya, which means to become, to happen, to occur.2
What does this tell us? In the beginning what was made good apparently became bad. How? Numbers of theologians believe this is when the angel Lucifer fell because of his pride (see Isaiah 14:11–15; Ezekiel 28:13–18).
From the beginning of time, however, we see the marvelous, compassionate way that God responds to catastrophes. After realizing that what He created was now covered with darkness, God didn’t decide to just abandon it. No. He refashioned this planet that had lost its original beauty.
When this was done, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31, emphasis mine). Now if God who is perfect thinks something is very good, it is very good. In fact, His new earth became the home for His Son’s bride. It was definitely not a secondbest place.
Not long after the introduction of the first man and woman, another great failure occurred. These human beings formed from the clay of the earth by God’s own hands, made in His own image, fell prey to the deceiver, and Paradise was lost.
An angel with a flaming sword was posted at the entrance to the Garden of Eden so they would never be able to return (see Genesis 3:24). What was God going to do now after the whole purpose of man’s creation— fellowship with Him—was lost? Well, He immediately gave them a most wonderful prophecy, the promise of the seed of the woman, who is the Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior (see Genesis 3:15).
Does this mean the cross was God’s second best because His first plan for mankind failed when Adam fell? If we say that the coming of the Messiah and the cross (and what Jesus accomplished through His death) were an inferior choice next to God’s original plan, it would be blasphemy!
God’s gift, “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8, NKJV), was God’s greatest revelation of His love toward mankind, greater than what Adam ever experienced before his fall. And think about this: The original plan only made man in the image of God, whereas the second one made him a child of God (John 1:12). No, the cross is not second best—it is the very best!3
After the Fall
From this point onward, man fails. Yet through this, we can still see how God magnificently weaves together His amazing plan from the beginning of history.
Abraham. Further into the book of Genesis, we encounter Abraham. He had faith not only to leave his homeland and set out on a God-given quest, but also the faith to receive a child in his old age. And not just any child—this was the child of promise, the embryo of a great nation that would eventually number more than the sands of the seashore.
Along the way, however, this faith hero fell into lies and deception. Because he was afraid for his life, Abraham told his attractive wife to inform the Egyptian pharaoh that she was his sister rather than his wife (see Genesis 12:10–20).
Not only that, after Abraham received the promise from God that he would have innumerable descendants, impatience got the best of him. Thinking God could produce the son without Sarah, he had a sexual relationship with her servant who conceived a child (see Genesis 16:1–2).
After all this, God restored him, used him mightily and even brought His own Son Jesus into the world through Abraham’s line. As a matter of fact, the whole Christian world of those who believe are children of Abraham (see Galatians 3:6–9).
Samson. This powerhouse of a man was called by God to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines (see Judges 13:5). Yet he lacked moral conviction and common sense when it came to women. There came a day when it looked like Samson’s folly totally destroyed what God wanted to do through him. Samson was forced to serve the very enemies he was born to conquer.
Yet once again, the Lord made the reworked vessel better than the former one. Scripture reports that Samson did more to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines after his failure than he did in his 20 years of leading Israel (see Judges 16:30). Resaid, God was still able to bring about His perfect plan through Samson’s life.
Thomas. Everyone thinks of him as “doubting Thomas.” This privileged man walked with Jesus during His ministry on earth and knew Him face-to-face.
Unfortunately, when the other disciples had the opportunity to see their Lord after He was raised from the dead, Thomas did not. Their excited reports seemed too good for him to believe. “Whoa,” responded the absentee. “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my fi nger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it” (John 20:25). Before long, the day came when he stood face-to-face with his Lord, and in the presence of his colleagues, he came to grips with his lack of faith.
I’m sure Thomas was grieved by his own skepticism, this reluctance to believe that Jesus could do something so amazing. But was that the end of his usefulness to the Lord?
No. Again, the Potter made a more beautiful vessel than what was there before. He chose Thomas to go to one of the hardest regions in the world at that time, to far-off India. Through his great faith and ultimate martyrdom, this extraordinary disciple established the Church in my nation.
In fact, in A.D. 52 Thomas traveled to Niranam (the village where I was born), shared the Gospel and established a church. And 1,900 years later, God granted me the privilege of being born into a family of believers in that very village. So my spiritual life traces its roots to the labor of Thomas so many generations back. I personally am convinced God was able to bring about His perfect will in the life of this one who earlier was a doubter.
Mark. This is the young man who deserted his teammates on his first missionary assignment. In the Apostle Paul’s opinion, Mark was unfit for service and didn’t deserve a second chance (see Acts 15:36–38).
How devastated John Mark must have felt about this! But the end of his story had not yet been written. Later on, his presence was desired by the same Apostle Paul, because “he is helpful to me in my ministry” (2 Timothy 4:11).
Mark also became a blessing to the whole Church by writing the story of Jesus in our second Gospel. What an encouragement he was not just in his own lifetime, but to the many ages that have followed.
Time and time again, God has taken marred pots and turned them into vessels of His praise. Not only does He make them more beautiful, but through them, He also brings about His perfect will. Truly, His ways are above our ways.
Sin and Failure—Good or Bad?
So if God is able to bring about His perfect will even though we sin, is there any reason to avoid the traps into which we so easily fall? Why press so hard toward the mark when everything seems to work out well even when we fail?
Pay attention! Although God’s grace abounds to us—His ways far above our understanding—and He is able to transform our failure, don’t trample under foot the Son of God and treat His blood as an unholy thing by deliberately sinning (see Hebrews 10:26–29).
Paul also addresses this issue in Romans 3:
“But,” some say, “our sins serve a good purpose,
for people will see God’s goodness
when he declares us sinners to be innocent.
. . . ” If you follow that kind of thinking,
however, you might as well say that the
more we sin the better it is! Those who say
such things deserve to be condemned, yet
some slander me by saying this is what I
preach! (Romans 3:5a, 8, NLT).
Because he often writes about the grace of God for fallen man, Paul reports that some say he is preaching that we should sin more so others will better be able to observe this grace. Nothing could be further from the truth. Later in Romans 6:2 (NLT), he responds to such accusations, saying, “Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?”
Yet the fact remains that no one is righteous. We all fail. But we don’t have to continue to live in sin. God’s grace is always there to help us become better people. We should be maturing children who bring Him praise—not just for the sake of His grace, but for the work of God to restore that which sin destroys.
But How Can This Be?
Are you still wrestling with, “How can God bring about His perfect will when I messed up so completely? I mean, I deliberately did what God did not want me to do. How can His ‘perfect’ will still be accomplished in my life?” You are not alone in your struggles.
If we looked at every single Bible illustration in which God did this precise thing, we still would not fully “understand” it. Actually, it is not possible to totally grasp this concept with our finite minds. His ways are far above ours. God views our lives from a totally different vantage point. He knows the end and how He intends to get us there.
First of all, He is not working within the confines of time. C.S. Lewis explains, “Every . . . moment from the beginning of the world—is always the Present for Him.”4 God is eternal. To God, 1 day is like 1,000 years, and 1,000 years is like 1 day. He sees the moment of a failure in our life at the same time He sees us on that moment when we stand before Him as a faultless bride. He sees us the moment we were born at the same time He sees us at the moment of our last breath. He is not restricted to seeing time progress in chronological order. He is not confined in
time as we are.
Not only does He have that amazing perspective, but He also is preparing us for eternity, not for tomorrow, not for next year, not even for our lifetime on earth. We so easily evaluate if we are on course by our current achievements, the opinions of men and our own view of what we are aiming toward, and our current status. But we forget, we are made not for time, but for eternity. All that happens in our lives is a classroom in which God is preparing us to reign with Him throughout eternity.
Can you believe God has something much greater in mind than simply your reputation among the people you are with this very day?
He has thoughts about us that go far beyond what we can even begin to consider. He is working outside of our realm of reference. None of us can totally understand God and His ways with our limited minds. We simply aren’t capable.
But we can believe Him. We don’t have to understand everything to accept what He says is true. If God says it, we must believe it.
Don’t fall into the trap in which you will only believe God if you completely understand Him. Your unbelief will hinder the transformation He wants to bring about in your life. Please don’t be a doubter. Join your heart with His and simply believe.
Choose to let go of yesterday and embrace the gift of all the todays that the Lord Himself has lavished upon you.
© 2006 by KP Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.