When Adam sinned, he tried to hide from God. When Jonah refused to preach to Nineveh, his fear drove him into the ocean, trying to flee the presence of the Lord. After Peter denied Christ, he left to weep bitterly.
Adam, Jonah, and Peter ran away from God, not because they lost their love for him but rather because they feared that the Lord was too angry to have mercy on them.
The accuser of the brethren waits like a vulture for you to fail in some way. At that point, he uses every lie in hell to convince you that God is too holy or you are too sinful to ever come back. He makes you afraid you are not perfect enough or that you will never rise above your failure.
If Moses, Jacob or David had resigned himself to failure, we might have never heard of these men. Yet Moses went back to the land he had fled and rose up to become one of God’s greatest heroes. Jacob faced his sins, was reunited with the brother he had cheated and reached new heights of victory. David ran into the house of God, found forgiveness and peace, and returned to his finest hour. Jonah retraced his steps, did what he had refused to do at first and brought a whole city to repentance. Peter rose out of the ashes of denial to lead the church to Pentecost.
In 1958, I sat in my car weeping. I had been unceremoniously dumped from a courtroom after I believed that I was led by God to witness to seven teenage murderers. My attempt to obey God and to help those young hoodlums looked as though it were ending in horrible failure.
I shudder to think of how much blessing I would have missed if I had given up in that dark hour. “Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe” (1 Corinthians 1:20-21, NKJV). How glad I am today that God taught me to face my failure and go on to his next step for me. Even if we fail, God is desiring for us to return to him.