What do you do when you’ve screwed up? How do you pick up the pieces of a big old mess you’ve created and walk forward? How do you live a life of humble repentance and still confidently leave the past behind?
I was reading the story of Saul this morning. Epic fail. God calls him to be King. Grants him wealth and victory and equips him to carry out the leadership of his people. But Saul keeps screwing up. He wants to do things HIS way… not Gods way. He disobeys and makes excuses for WHY he disobeys. Finally, God says… enough. He tells Saul that he is rejecting his kingship.
The following years of Saul’s reign are so very troubling. (Yeah…even though God rejected Saul as king, he was still kept in that position for many years… that’s a WHOLE other blog…) But we find Saul tormented, taunted with depression and jealousy. We see him going mad with resentment and wild mood swings. It is the picture of an epic fail with no recovery.
I wondered to myself, “Could Saul have come back from his bad choices?” Could there have been a redemptive ending to this story instead of the depressingly long spiral downward?
I believe with all my heart that the answer is yes. One of my ALL time favorite verses is in 2 Samuel 14:14. It says, “That is why God tries to bring us back when we have been separated from him. He does not sweep away the lives of those he cares about – and neither should you.” We KNOW through countless scriptures that God does not throw people away. He allows consequences and gives us free will – but He NEVER stops trying to bring us back into right relationship with Him. He simply does NOT give up on people.
So- what was the hold up here? Why did Saul never make a recovery? Perhaps he could never get past what he had lost by his disobedience. Maybe he was just too stubborn to admit that he had failed. Maybe, deep down, the disappointment he felt in himself overrode any thoughts of moving forward.
But, imagine if Saul could have come to the place where he said, “Ok God, I screwed this up. I realize that I have lost everything. But my life is more about serving YOU than any position, so I repent, turn from my past mistakes, accept the consequences you have placed before me, and choose to walk forward in ANY role or capacity you may find for me – simply seeking to please you. “ I wonder what the plan for a repentant Saul might have looked like?
But instead, we see a man, sitting on his throne tormented by the “what I used to be’s…” and “what could have been’s” and never discovering the redemption to be found in God’s presence.
Oh, how my heart is overwhelmed today for people who have made the “big screw up.” Yes, I know, we ALL sin daily and sin is sin to God. But today I am thinking of those whose sinful choices have caused life-altering consequences. Those that are at the crossroads of becoming “Saul’s.” Those sitting in torment while the enemy of their souls convinces them that what they have lost can never be redeemed.
If that is you, I want you to listen to me right now. GOD DOES NOT SWEEP AWAY THE LIVES OF THOSE HE CARES ABOUT. I’m not here to say that it will be easy or that everything will be the way it was before. But I am here to say that there is a God big enough to take your failures. And if you are open enough to let him; if you humble yourself, swallow the pride and embarrassment that keep you from repentance, then there is a God who will walk you back into relationship with Him and forward into a blessed and bright future.
I remember sitting in a room many, many years ago, praying with a friend of mine who had made some seriously bad life choices that were causing enormous consequences. Immorality. Betrayal. An unplanned pregnancy. Everything seemed like this young man’s life would never recover from his mistakes. As we prayed for my friend, a wise leader spoke profound words over his life. He said, “Of course we know that if you had chosen Plan A, that would have been better. But, God always has a plan B. And although our finite minds can’t wrap around it, plan B will be just as good if not better than plan A. That’s just the way God works.”
God has a Plan B for you, my friend. But you HAVE to play your part in it. Some of you are finding yourself just like Saul – depressed, hardened, and tormented. It’s time to get up, let go and move forward. It’s time to humble yourself before the Lord so that HE can lift you up. It’s time to trust the heart of God that always seeks the restoration of His children. Epic fails don’t have to be final fails.