Many Christians struggle to make their faith real and practical. They engage all kinds of plans and tactics to live up to what they believe and what the Bible says. But they feel empty, powerless, and hollow. Even fake. Sometimes these dear ones end up in unhealthy, repeating cycles. They feel they are failing continually. It’s as if success is not an option for them in their walk with the Lord. They need a new reality: Rising from failure.
I happened to meet with a friend a few months ago. They shared this very scenario with me. I heard them say – “How can I live a surrendered life? I struggle so much to make my faith a real thing. I keep repeating the very cycles I want to break.” There was a helpless sadness as they told me how they wanted to be free of their continual struggle.
After prayerfully listening, I felt led to share some observations. It was a bit of a risk, because what the Lord was placing in my heart seemed to be a root of their failures. But I couldn’t be sure. In my own life, roots like this have affected my successes and failures. But life is complex. Each person is different. Perhaps this would help. Perhaps it wouldn’t. Yet, I decided to share what the Lord prompted in my heart. I’m going to share it with you now. It may or may not help, but if it does, I’m thankful!
To let you know right up front, this is going to be a longer article. I want to address the topic more deeply, and that takes words. To help you as my reader, I’m dividing the article into bite-size sections so you can pick up later if you can’t read it all in one sitting.
Here’s What I Shared With My Friend
My dear friend was ripe and eager to hear God’s message. And they felt desperate to embrace change. So, they were motivated. This friend is definitely a believer in Jesus – for many years. I respect them.
There is talk in Christian circles that people feel like failures because they don’t feel valued or loved. While I think this is true in some cases, that may be only part of the problem. Of course, people need to be loved, valued, and encouraged. God’s love is the critical power that enables every believer. But I think there is more going on for some folks. Perhaps this is true for you.
I suggested to my friend that I sensed a disconnect from God’s love and power. Perhaps even a lack of surrender to God. Surrender has everything to do with trust. It’s what the Scriptures talk about all the time: faith. Does this mean this person is less of a Christian in some way? Of course not! Many strong and resilient Christians have realized they need to trust God’s love much more and yield to His Lordship increasingly. In fact, I believe this is the meat and potatoes of a daily relationship with God.
If you read the testimonies of the strongest Christians over the centuries, God’s Love and Lordship (the term I will officially use going forward) is what they talk about most. I include the apostle Paul in this group. Personally, I have found help exploring God’s love and how little I understand it. Every day I seem to see ways I can increase surrender and trust in His effectual care over my life. The Scriptures constantly urge people to trust in the Lord and not cave in to doubt and fear.
God’s Love and Lordship
Let’s go back to my friend. They had accepted Jesus as Savior, but had not yet yielded to a Loving Lord. Believe me! They knew all about it. So did I before I started getting truly honest about stuff many years ago. I kept doing what I didn’t want to . . . and I couldn’t seem to permanently grab onto what I was supposed to do. Talk about frustration! Seasoned believer and all that! I felt like a fake.
During those years of my Christian walk, I identified very much with what Paul wrote in Rom. 7 and 8. Finally, I decided to simply trust like Job, who said, “Even if You kill me, I will trust You.” (Job 13:15) I also decided I would address any doubts with the prayer of the dear man in Mk. 9:24 – “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
There is a connect point between God’s love and His Lordship. It takes a lot of trust in God’s love and goodness to completely give yourself to Him. Hands down. No questions. This is a journey of faith that goes on for your whole life. If you really “get” God’s love, it is easier to immediately, completely surrender to His over-care – because personal risks go down dramatically.
A New Approach For My Friend
I encouraged my friend to try something new. I will call it – marrying God’s Love and Lordship. We talked about the Scripture, “. . . you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body.” (1 Cor. 6:20) Mal. 2:15a says, “Has not the one God made you? You belong to Him in body and spirit.” In other words, you belong to God, who loves you deeply. You don’t belong to yourself. His opinion matters. Yet, His love for you is so rich and deep, there is very little risk in handing your life over to His care. You will always be met with God’s Love and Lordship. Yes, you need to “work out your salvation.” (Phil. 2:12) But this work starts right here in trusting God’s Love and Lordship with abandon.
I suggested that my friend engage a daily bedtime exercise. Get a small notebook and pen. Start in the front of the notebook. Each day humbly write down what you struggled with that day. What did you fail in? Be specific. Name it. Then write down that Jesus is Loving Lord over that specific struggle . . . and believe it. Commit to it. Claim a Scripture over that failure. Pray over these journal entries. Pray over your heart.
Then, start a different kind of honesty in the back of the notebook and work toward the middle. Briefly record areas you were successful in recognizing His Lordship as you responded to your life scenario. Even if you didn’t perform perfectly – just record that you recognized His Love and Lordship are married over you.
Somewhere in the middle of your little notebook, your failures and successes will meet under God’s Love and Lordship. Praise God for this. Open your heart to His powerful love and His right as Lord.
Frankly, this very plan, these action steps, are a huge launch into success in Christ. God loves your faith. And He will ALWAYS reward it.
The Mathematical View
If you are a math-kind-of-person, here is this idea written out as a “mathematical word equation” –
Start with your failures.
Bring them under God’s Loving Lordship and surrender fully to Jesus.
Let go of failures as your doomed identity. In Christ, that isn’t the real you anyway.
Welcome the new identity you have in Christ by faith. You are a new creature.
Embrace and claim God’s deep love for you by faith. Just do it!!
All of this added together equals starting to see little successes as you trust God’s love enough to surrender, even in your failures. Rest in Him. Take up His peace as your own. Your successes begin to grow! Why? Because God honors humble faith.
My friend chose to believe – and agreed to do the notebook idea, tenaciously putting time and energy into marrying God’s Love and Lordship. It was an acceptable plan with easy action steps. And – they carried out two months of this mathematical word equation.
What My Friend Reported
Recently, I had a conversation with my friend about the surrender thing. I heard excitement in their voice that wasn’t there several months ago. With self-accountability and their little notebook saturated with God’s Word, they used failures as a launchpad into God’s amazing Love and Lordship. They intentionally brought every failure and every disappointment into surrender, and let it go. They recorded Jesus is Lord over that failure or disappointment, and they embraced His love rather than embracing the “failure pattern” or the “terrible losses pattern” as their identity.
So much of your identity is wrapped up in your perspective. So, the healthiest, healing thing you can do is to adopt God’s perspective – not your own. Yield to Him in all details. Call Him your First Love. (Rev. 2:4) Align your every thought, word, deed, and life scenario under Christ.
My friend noticed they began to change from the inside out. No longer did they feel they had to strive in burdensome ways. Rather, they felt more free. Cared for. Held accountable – and that healthy, self-accountability (with freedom to fail and try again) was powerful. Fear was falling off as they claimed Scriptures over their life. Healing freedom followed practicing truth. Just like Scripture says – embrace the truth and it will set you free. (Jn. 8:32) My friend also discovered the tender strength of God.
I just loved it when my friend opened to the front of their small notebook and began reading their notes to me. No wonder they were refreshed and excited. I was so impressed at the insights – simple, yet profound observations of how Jesus is Lord over every failure and loss in their life. In the back of their notebook were successes they had slowly begun to experience as they aligned under Loving Lordship. Previously, they had consistently experienced failures. This person’s hope was renewed. They even identified rays of peace and joy shining in their heart.
I asked my friend if I could share some of their writings with you. They said a big “yes!” So, here are some fabulous, very simple notes. As they participated in this exercise, they proclaimed –
Jesus is Loving Lord! Of everything! Period. And I trust Him with all I am. Period. Even in my doubts, failures, and losses.
My Friend’s Notes
On the first page, I saw 2 Scriptures recorded. They were instructional, and my friend intended them to set the frame work of all their entries.
I’m going to bullet the summaries of their journal entries, but will not provide my friend’s expanded thoughts. Those paragraphs, contain their process of letting go of how they failed in a particular area. They beautifully engaged honesty as they wrote about things. And they ended each journal entry with a relevant Scripture they took very much to heart. In other words, this humble and honest person yielded completely to Jesus as they identified and admitted certain things, day by day, bullet by bullet. They yielded each point to God’s Loving Lordship. Perhaps this will encourage you.
Remember, this is the front of the book where all the failures and opportunities to practice Lordship were recorded:
- God is Lord over my thoughts.
- Jesus is Lord over my posture.
- Jesus is Lord over my responses.
- He is Lord over my passions.
- Jesus is Lord of my ideas.
- Jesus is Lord of my moods.
- He is Lord of my sadness and loneliness.
- Am I going to admit that Jesus is Lord over my entire life?
- Jesus is Lord of my repentance.
- Jesus is Lord of my time.
- He is Lord of my insecurities.
- Jesus is Lord over the duration of change – my perseverance as I wait on Him.
- Jesus is Lord over my parenting.
- He is Lord over my getting up on time in the morning.
- Jesus Christ is Lord over my stressful moments.
- Jesus is Lord of the timing of my seasons.
- Jesus is Lord of my diet/appetite.
- He is Lord of my prayers.
- He is Lord of my observations.
- Jesus is Lord of my friendships and interactions.
- Jesus is Lord over my mistakes.
- Jesus is Lord over my purchases.
- He is Lord of my processing my life.
- Jesus is Lord of my sharing and talking.
- Jesus is Lord over my headaches.
- Jesus is Lord over my “gray” areas that I can’t figure out.
- He is Lord of my default habits.
- He is Lord of my anticipation.
- Jesus is Lord of my to-do list.
- Jesus is Lord of my down time thoughts.
- Jesus is Lord of my projects.
- He is Lord of my hunger.
- He is Lord of my sweet demeanor and how I use it.
- Jesus is Lord of my ministry.
- Jesus is Lord of the swings of my feelings.
- He is Lord of my needs.
- Jesus is Lord of my trials and sufferings.
- Jesus is Lord of my growth process.
- Jesus is Lord of my unwind time.
- Jesus is Lord of the unending tasks before me.
- Jesus is Lord of my teaching.
- He is Lord of my recurrent ideas.
- He is Lord over all my meetings.
- He is Lord over my thoughts.
- Jesus is Lord of my disappointments and fears . . . and my responses to them.
- Jesus is Lord of my fatigue.
- He is Lord of my focus.
- Jesus is Lord of my health.
- Jesus is Lord of my job.
- Jesus is Lord of my waiting.
- Jesus is Lord of good news!
- He is Lord of the details of my life.
- Jesus is Lord of the unknowns.
- Jesus is Lord of my unintentional and unaware motives and actions.
- Jesus is Lord of my preparations.
- He is Lord over my fears.
- He is Lord of my schedule.
- He is Lord of my breaking points – when I think I can’t go on.
- Jesus is Lord of my health concerns.
- Jesus is Lord of my emotional management, and I’m accountable to Him.
- Jesus is Lord of my growth process.
- He is Lord of my hopes and dreams.
- He is Lord of my celebrations.
- He is Lord of my accountability.
- Jesus is Lord of my commitments.
- He is Lord over my loneliness.
- He is Lord of my impatience.
- Jesus is Lord of my irritating and annoying responses.
- Jesus is Lord of the New Year.
Now, tell me this person didn’t grow! They grew by leaps and bounds into the very areas they were previously in bondage to. Humility. Honesty. Hard work.