I love to give gifts; it really is a problem for our budget. When I think of the gifts that the Lord wants to receive from me, I think of fruitfulness and success, as if they would give him the most glory and joy.
But today, as I was spending time with Him, the Lord gave me an image of me presenting to Him, on that day when we meet face to face for the first time, a basketful of failures.
Not because God glories in failure or hates fruitfulness and success, but because of what such a present would mean coming from someone who has wrestled for so many years with presenting successes, with performing excellently.
In his book Trusting God when Life Hurts, Jerry Bridges makes a profound statement that haunts me. “It is far easier to obey than to trust.”
In the parable of the talents (Matthew 25: 14-30), the Master gets angry with the servant who buried his talent. His anger stems not so much from the act of burying as from the stubborn distrust the servant had in the character of the Master.
“Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid and went and hid your talent in the ground (Matthew 25:24-25).
His burying of the talent came from a lack of trust in the goodness of the Master, from a fear that the Master would punish failure.
Risking requires great amounts of trust. Thankfully, we have more than a hunch that our God is indeed a Good Master. We have proof. For our Good Master allowed His precious son to be killed by the unfaithful stewards (see the Parable of the Vineyard, Matthew 21).
As someone who learned incredibly early to perform well, I tend to limit my life to things I can do and do well. While I am all for boundaries and margins, often times my small spheres come not from wisdom but from fear. Fear that I might fail, fear of how failure might be received, just like the unfaithful steward. I envy those naturally confident, even brazen servants who don’t have a hard time risking or investing or putting themselves out there. I feel so much safer burying things or maintaining small circles that I feel I can control.
But love overcomes fear, and Christ’s love continuously calls me to stretch my circles as I seek to trust Him more and more.
As such, I can imagine that the gift that Christ would most happily and proudly receive from me on that beautiful day when we embrace is a basketful of bold failures. Not sinful failures, but failures that came from stepping out in faith, venturing out on His Word beyond the territory of my own gifts or abilities.
“The fear of falling on our faces exacts a heavy price. It discourages exploration and assures the progressive narrowing of the personality. There is no learning without fumbling. If we are to keep growing, we must risk failure all our lives.” Brennan Manning, The Signature of Jesus.
A basketful of failures would be evidence of a life lived in radical trust of My gentle and Redeeming Father. Thus, reluctantly, I will gently gather and collect what I, others or the world deem failures, as a precious gift birthed of a growing trust in the overwhelming Goodness of the Master.
I long for the day when I will get to present such a basket to the Master, but even more so, I long for the day when trust will come naturally to my finally set-free self!