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February 1, 2007

he prize for the most useless weapon of all time goes to the Russians.  During World War II they invented the “Dog Mine.”  The plan was to train dogs to associate food with the undersides of German Panzer tanks.  Bombs would be strapped to the dog’s backs who would then run under that advancing German tanks.  As the logic went, when the bombs exploded the tanks would be destroyed.

Unfortunately, the dogs associated food only with Russian tanks.  The plan was implemented on day one and abandoned on day two.  The dogs with the bombs on their backs forced an entire Russian tank division into retreat.

Failure is very much a part of our lives.  Often it seems as if the more we strive for success the more we experience failure.  It has been said that the trouble with success is that the formula is the same as the one for a nervous breakdown.

C.S. Lewis, in The Screwtape Letters, describes one of Satan’s favorite tactics to demoralize and discourage Christians:  Get Christians to become preoccupied with their failures; from then on, the battle is won.

Isn’t that true of us?  We tend to see ourselves in a negative light:  people who fail.  We become so entangled in a self-image of inadequacy and weakness that we no longer focus on God or see ourselves as God sees us.

Robert Wise in his book “Your Churning Place” shares the following experience:

I had a friend who used to call me on the phone on Monday mornings.  I’d pick up the phone and this minister would say, “Hello, this is God.  I have a gift for you today.  I want to give you the gift of failing.  Today you do not have to succeed.  I grant that to you.”

Then he would hang up.  I would sit there for ten minutes, staring at the wall.

The first time I couldn’t believe it.  It was really the gospel.  God’s love means it’s even okay if you fail.  You don’t have to be the greatest thing in the world.  You can just be you.

Jesus spoke to the Apostle Paul saying, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

God knows our failures, weaknesses, and inadequacies.  And yet, He loves us.  He invites us to come to Him.  When we give up ourselves to Him, and stop trying to be what we can never be, He enters in and supplies all that we need.  God is gracious to us, by grace, giving to us what we do not deserve or could never achieve on our own.  That is, His power to live life, even our salvation and eternal life.

Paul, was by earthly standards a failure.  Having set aside his high position in the Jewish nation he was executed as a poor common criminal.  Yet Paul boasts in his weakness, writing, “For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).

Paul learned that success comes not by trusting in ourselves but by trusting in God.  When we realize our weakness and feel our inadequacy it is a  reminder for us to focus on God and trust Him for our sufficiency.

Paul encourages the Ephesian Christians with these words, “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might” (Ephesians 6:10).  May that be true of us.