- Leah Van Someren
What Would You Do If You Knew You Couldn't Fail?
If you’re like me, you fear failure.
You avoid risking to fulfill aspirations that you pray to be true. Instead, you spy through dreamy binoculars, examining the caged and sedated ‘what could be’s’. Keeping your expectations at a comfortably low level, you stay close to the ground as to evade getting hurt should you fall. Only investing a portion of yourself so you still have something in case things don't go your way. But this avoidance — this halfhearted living — effects everything, especially your reliance in He through whom all things are possible (Matt. 19:26). With a ceiling of low-risk investing — low-risk living — you’ll never shoot beyond the probable, for how far would you fall should you actually expect the impossible? Given that’s true, it also means you’ll also never truly rely on Jesus…only on your own control.
But lately, I’ve been wondering…
Why should these possibilities be confined? Perhaps these iron bars of fear protect our egos from the terror of failure…or maybe…just maybe they’re protecting that which is inside…the precious, fragile thing that is hope. After all, a hope released and relied on is forced to fend off the harsh edges of reality. I’ve lived my whole life desperately protecting my hope. My hope in the truth of the gospel, that Jesus is who He says He is and that this whole thing is actually real. Behind iron bars of fear, I sat with my hope making sure reality and the people living in it could never poke a single hole in the fabric of my faith…as if Jesus couldn’t take me failing to defend it. I’ve always enjoyed sharing about my relationship with God but people’s questions sent me running behind the confines of my fear. That is until June 27th when the Lord confronted me with a jarring question: What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?
At the time, I didn’t know why He’d ask me that.
“Of course I can fail! I am only human!” I refuted. But the question echoed in my heart all summer. In fact, I wrestled with it until month two of my Race, not only because it seemed impossible but also because I was insanely and unavoidably drawn to the notion. What would I do if I actually knew failure wasn’t a possibility? Well…I’d probably share my hope…I’d take down my iron gates and pass it out freely. I’d share the gospel and bring God glory without fear of people. That’s what I’d do! And ultimately, that’s what Jesus led me toward. Month two, I discovered my spiritual gift of evangelism (Eph. 4:11-12).
That sounds a whole lot more fancy than it is…
It’s simply that Jesus uses me to chat it up with people who don’t know Him and paint them a compelling and intriguing picture of the gospel. And let me tell you…nothing in the entire world has brought me more joy! Like for real…when I get to talk to someone about Jesus, I get SUCH a rush. Connecting with people’s souls, Holy Spirit coursing through my veins, Jesus manifesting right next to us, cheering us on, there is nothing I’d rather do.
A couple weeks into our time in Tacloban City Carly and I went to lunch together. Entering Roadside Blues Diner, we were greeted by a man with a sweet smile and welcoming demeanor. One thing led to another and we ended up sitting together for an hour as Holy Spirit flung the door wide open to talk about his faith…or lack thereof.
“I’m not very religious…I don’t go to church every Sunday. I’m catholic.” He explained.
“Would you describe yourself as having a personal relationship with God?” I asked.
“Oh no, not at all. I just know there is something out there.”
I began to open the gift that is the gospel. Giving him sneak peeks into the hope, glory, peace and abundant life that Jesus offers. He then asked me something that completely took me by surprise.
“Can you tell me…I want to know how God has changed your life. You keep telling me how great He is but I want to know what your life looked like before Him and now what it looks like after. Do you understand?”
With a knowing half-smile I said, “We have a word for what you’re describing. Do you know what it is?” I assumed he’d answer with ease but instead, he shook his head no.
“Testimony.” I said “You want to know the testimony of how Jesus changed my life. I’d love to tell you.”
I told him all about my own transformation. I illustrated my life as a woman broken and hollow from an eating disorder, now strong and joyously living with Jesus inside her heart. I asked if we could pray over him and he agreed and chuckled saying, “You’re like the 3rd or 4th christians that have come in here and prayed over me since the six months of being open.”
“God is getting your attention!” I exclaimed with a laugh.
The next week, I made it a priority to visit him again. It struck me how it felt like talking to an old friend. We talked about his passions — tattoos, cooking and music — as well as those things that drive him crazy about religion like the hypocrisy, staleness and inauthenticity.
But then with excitement, he said, “By the way, when you left last week, I felt something…something different.”
He motioned to his heart. I explained he had a direct encounter with the Holy Spirit! He was excited and explained how just the night before decided to pray to God.
“Pa, I need your help. I can’t do all this by myself…would you please come help me.”
We talked for another hour or more. My sweet friend ended our time saying “I think I may give Jesus a chance but I don’t want to do it just willy-nilly. I want to do it the right way.” Kirsten prayed for him and as we left, he said “I’ll see you again.” Confused, I explained that I don’t know when I’ll be back to the Philippines. He brushed me off saying, “Oh I know, I know. It’s a long story but I’ll see you again and tell you then.”
As we walked away, Kirsten and I couldn’t help but speculate maybe (whether he knows it or not) he was referring to heaven. I think I’ll see him there.
Jesus is on the move in that man’s life.
Not because I did something ‘correctly’ but because when talking about love and the gospel — when sharing hope — one cannot fail because JESUS is at work. And if Jesus is at work, that means the GOD of the universe is at work and He cannot fail. I used to pay homage to the spirit of fear of failure. When I was convinced I would fail — that I would botch Jesus’ job and come up broke — I didn’t even step out to try. I let moments of Spirit-led revival drift on by with not some much as a second thought. I kept myself safe amongst the probable and my probable told me no one would come to Jesus through hearing about Him.
But that, my friends, is the only type of failure there is…disobedience.
If God asks you to share His gospel with people (which He has asked all of us) and you don’t, that is a failure to respond to the job which we are called. But we’re not meant to feel shame! Instead, get angry at the spirit of fear! He has stolen from you and worst yet, he’s stollen from our Father and for that, he deserves to be ripped off and left in the dust.
Don’t hide in fear. Step out in expectation!
If you step out and seek opportunity…enter in every conversation with your hope on your sleeve, you’ll see God open doors for you. And should you choose to publicly represent Him, speaking about your relationship with bold confidence, the fact is, you can’t fail because you’re not doing the work. If you’ve accepted Jesus in your heart, His Spirit lives inside you and it is He that speaks through you because it’s His Spirit coursing through your veins. You can’t fail because He whom all things are possible actually dwells within your soul and will never, ever desert you, drop you or leave you hopeless.
So share the gospel with anyone and everyone.
Paint authentic, compelling and captivating illustrations of the love that lights up your soul. And start with your own testimony. You were recreated for triumph, transformed for telling it on the mountain and redeemed to radiate His Glory. Hold your head high in all situations and speak of the love, peace, hope and life that is given to you freely by God through Christ Jesus, our Lord.