According to Job’s friend, Job was letting “his own schemes throw him down” (NIV Job 18). And don’t we all get drawn into prideful schemes that result in failure and cast us down? Such a willful scheme failed me several years ago. I had let myself get drawn into a book-marketing plan by the people who publish my books. I hated what I was doing and the time it required, but I kept trying to convince myself that it was accomplishing something. Worse, I kept trying to convince myself that this was what the Lord wanted me to do.
Then the quarterly report arrived showing that my book sales hadn’t been increased at all. Just as it says in Job, the “vigor” went out of my step and my “lamp” went out and I sat in a dark room, wallowing in self-pity. Instead of blaming myself, I yelled at the Lord, “Why, why, why? All that time and effort wasted!” The gist of the Lord’s rebuke was simple and direct: “Why would I be concerned about selling books?” After a moment of surprise, I started to laugh with relief. The burden of responsibility just slid off of my shoulders, and I was free. I had been getting all humiliated and defeated by things that didn’t matter to the Lord at all!
Failure is something we all experience at one time or another. We determine something that we think we need to do. We convince ourselves that this is what God wants us to do. And we pray for it to succeed—until it doesn’t. I’ve been humiliated many times in my life and in my walk with the Lord. One can only wonder why I still fear it. These words of Mother Teresa (No Greater Love) come to mind: “All that has been said about humility is not enough to teach you humility. All that you have read about humility is not enough to teach you humility. You learn humility only by accepting humiliations.” And so I accepted this one. (Living Strong, chapter 2)