God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn.
—Romans 11:29 NLT
God calls you. He draws you. One day in response to persistent prayer, you realize what God wishes from your life. The realization of His will initially frightens you, but the apprehension finally gives way to surrender. With surrender anticipation builds. You live your purpose with fervent desire. You serve the Lord unquestionably, and believe that what you offer makes a difference. You experience the joy and fulfillment of knowing you are in the Lord's will, but in the midst of the joy of service, you unexpectedly deny something that calls for a deeper level of commitment. You discover that you have failed Him. In guilt and grief you question your worth.
“Lord,” you cry, “what should I do?”
“Do you love me?” He asks. The unanticipated question strikes hard. You might be Peter on the shore, leaning over a bed of glowing embers, warming his cold hands, and remembering another coal fire where he had failed Jesus.
“Yes, Lord,” you manage to respond. “You know I love you.”
He repeats the question two more times, and each time you answer, you are abruptly aware of your failure. The Lord gently lifts your trembling chin to peer into eyes that also once burned into Peter’s. At that moment, your failure is gone. Lost in His gaze, you know you are forgiven. “If you love me,” He says, “then feed my sheep.”
His words are a statement to the fact that you have been called. Lovingly the Lord has brought you to your place of denial—your place of failure—and then called for your sacrificial best so that you might understand that your worth is not defined by your failure. It is found in the humility of your heart. What is the actual price of your sacrificial best? Being sold out to the Master means that no price is too high to feed His sheep. You rise from the misplaced altar of your coal fire and choose to make Him your altar. He is your focus now—not your failure.
Never allow failure to hinder you, but to humble you. Continue to share Christ’s message, His heart, and His love. Learn from your failure, move on, and remember that “feeding the sheep” is not about you. It is about loving Him. Leave the failure of your denial, just as Peter did, and rise once more to His calling.
REPAIR YOUR ALTAR
When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.
—Isaiah 43:2 NLT
Through any distress and loss that you face, He is with you. The waters will not rise above the strength that only He can bring forth in your life. Oppression will only strengthen and refine you. When you advance through the rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. He will be your haven—your safe harbor. Whatever your sorrow or pain, it does not last forever. Whatever your heartbreak or despair, it will be over one day. You will not be burned up. You will be refined as gold.
His peace comes when you repair the altar that has been waiting far too long. It has been broken in stages as His call to fall upon your knees has been repeatedly ignored. Have you believed you had more pressing needs than spending time with Him? Have you placed Him and His call on the back burner so often that now He seems too far beyond your reach? His altar is a place of sacrifice and one of obedience. It waits for you. It calls you. Oh, if only you had fallen upon His altar each day! It would not have taken a moment of crisis for you to realize your fragile state and that peace could be so elusive. But here you are, and in this moment you realize what you have lost.
The altar waits for you. It has never grown tired of your delay. The promise of His love and peace is still just as real. Fall upon your knees in absolute surrender. The anguish you have felt will soon anticipate His promise of joy to come. Grasp His promise that “weeping may last through the night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5b, NLT). His strongest children are those who, in the night of weeping—after leaving their pain upon His altar—confidently believe in the promise of joy in the morning. Come and repair what has been broken.
WHATEVER IS TO COME
Lord, with all the faith I can find
I release my pain to you.
Body, mind, spirit, soul,
I claim all that you have new.
Fill my mind with greater faith
That rises sure and strong.
Give eyes to see that which you see
And your will to still hang on.
I invite your Holy Presence
Where once I only coped.
Now flow, O faith, into my heart
Breathe life where once I hoped!
Today I look to you again.
Once more I release anguish
Into your faithful healing hands
For whatever you may wish.
Fill my days with joyful praise
And nights with your great peace.
Heal every broken part of me
That has longed for your release.
O, Lord, of heaven, sky and earth
Of my heart that has so cried,
Now I praise you King of Kings.
I understand just why you died.
Praise to the Lord of Lords I sing!
Praise to the King of Kings!
In sickness or in health I trust
In that which His faith brings.
In rest I close my eyes this night
And praise Him only from
The peace with which I trust His heart
For whatever is to come.