C. S. Lewis’ spiritual director, Fr. W. F. Adams wrote a pamphlet (Thoughts from the Note-Books of a Priest Religious. London: The Faith Press, 1949). I paraphrased one of his lines about those in ministry in this way:
“Others may fail and give up, but the faithful fail and keep going.”
This is an echo of Proverbs 24:16:
for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, the wicked stumble when calamity strikes. (TNIV)
Failure isn’t an option for imperfect humans like you and me. The option we do have is how we will respond to failure. Do we let ourselves become discouraged and so throw in the towel? Or, do we get right back up and keep going in the good direction we were trying for. Walking with God will often involve falling, and reaching up to His hand to sustain and guide me.
Which direction do I look when I’ve fallen? Do I stare guiltily at my failure, or gaze at his face full of mercy, forgiveness and the kind of bracing grace that will help me find freedom?