Isaiah 55:8, 11
I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work. . . . The words that come out of my mouth [will] not come back to me empty-handed. They’ll do the work I sent them to do, they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.
One of the things I like to tell our team at Generous Space is, “Nothing is wasted.” I thrive on ideas – but we can’t possibly execute all the ideas that come to us. Nor should we. Some of them are half-baked and wouldn’t be a wise use of our resources to pursue. On the other hand, sometimes we begin to work on a new initiative and find that it just isn’t developing as we thought, or the timing isn’t right, or external situations change that make the project moot. But whether an idea comes to full fruition, lies fallow for a while, or completely fails …. nothing is wasted. There are always things we learn. And sometimes it is failure that teaches us the most.
This notion of embracing failure as an incubator for learning – perhaps even wisdom – is much easier to talk about than it is to embody. Most of us have been steeped in the belief that productivity and success are crucial for significance, meaning, and impact. To swim upstream, to stare down the whispers of shame, to embody the paradox of confidence and humility regardless of what we have been able to achieve, can be an exhausting challenge.
In this passage, God reminds us that their ways are higher than our ways. God embodies a freedom that we cannot fully comprehend. God has given free will to humankind – doesn’t exert control over what we think and do. Yet God’s words do not return void. They always do the work God intends and fulfill God’s purposes without exception. This is a great mystery. How does God always fulfill their purpose while not exerting control over their creation? Imagine the divine nimbleness within God to continuously respond redemptively regardless of how the autonomy of the creature impacts things – such that God is never thwarted. Nothing escapes being woven into God’s redemptive plan. Nothing is wasted.
Most of us can look back over our journey to move towards LGBTQ+ justice and see a mixture of missteps and constructive action. It can be easy to be paralyzed by harm we may have inadvertently (or overtly) contributed to. We can be discouraged by how long it has taken us to become attuned to what is really at stake.
Remember…. nothing is wasted. Learning from failure is just as much a part of the journey as the strong words and actions of an advocate. Let’s not waste time making excuses, feeling ashamed, or wallowing in regret. It’s time to step up, to speak out, and embrace the road ahead.
- Have there been instances in the past where you realize you were complicit in the exclusion of LGBTQ+ people from full participation in the church? Are there steps you need to take to acknowledge, reconcile or restore? What is holding you back from moving forward to be a vocal and active advocate for LGBTQ+ people?
We marvel at the mystery of the way you work God. It is beyond our imagination. But we trust that you cannot, will not be thwarted. We trust that the fullness of your purposes for LGBTQ+ folks in the church will come to fruition – in your perfect timing. Even so, we cry out, “Maranatha” Lord come quickly. Keep weaving our failures and life-giving steps into your redemptive plan so that we will experience your vision of justice. Amen.
This Lenten reflection accompanies the Tell Your Pastor #imaffirming initiative. To learn more click here.