Off & Running
a Blog of Life on the Run


"Life isn't about the mistakes you make,
it's about what you do next."

- Lee McFarland at National Community Church

Failure is how empathy is created. When we fail, we have a deeper appreciate for what others are going through. Who listens to people who have lived perfect lives? No one. Who is perfect? No one.

Pastor Lee McFarland came to National Community Church to share the story of his sin and how it broke his life. Three years later, he's recovered and using his testimony to change lives. He's showing us that anyone can fail. ANYONE. He's changing lives, stopping others from doing what he did, and allowing those who have been there to get help. His failure is creating miracles. And his story was perfect timing for everything I've had on my mind.

My failures can create miracles. 
Getting ready for my trip to Africa in October, I'm currently taking an inventory of my life. I'm looking at what makes up my testimony and how my life can give hope to others. I'm not looking through the vault of great times, positive experiences, and loveliness. I'm looking at the hurt, the pain, the mistakes, the sins, the failures. By being real with who I am, others can be real with me and learn from my mistakes. 

One story Lee told was about the fishermen who had been fishing all night but didn't catch anything. When Jesus came to ask them if they had caught anything, they were not in the best of spirits. He told them to cast their nets in again and they came out bursting. Lee believes the fish were under the boat the whole time waiting for Jesus' signal. Sometimes our miracles are much closer than we think. Sometimes we have to fail first to find them.

God loves using people who fail.
Look at the stories in the Bible - they're full of people who failed. Running from God, committing adultery, denying Christ, anything you can think of. When I decided to quit drinking for 30 days, it was because I had been failing miserably at life decisions. I announced my decision on Facebook, Twitter, and my blog and the outpouring of support was incredible. Because I announced it publicly, I received numerous messages asking for support in their own decision to quit. Even people I didn't know - by quitting, I had given them hope. God used my openness to help others. Wow.

If you look behind you more than in front, you crash.
"When we get stressed out, we fall back into something we've already conquered," Lee truthfully explains. After taking 30 days off from drinking, I wanted to see if I could control it. I set rules and boundaries for myself. And then promptly forgot about them. I made mistakes. While drinking, I make decisions I wouldn't make as a clear-headed sober girl. I didn't even get drunk, but it didn't matter. The fog allowed me to slip back into old habits I hated. Just a week later, I had to give it up again.

He accepts you, but He isn't content to leave you that way.
Since I hit my 30's, I've been getting more clear on what I'm here for - what God really wants me to do with my life. I've realized that I've been terrified of what He would say if I asked Him what I should do. While driving back from St Louis yesterday, I realized that I had been saying I was going to pray but never got around to it. An hour before I got home, I started praying. Tears started falling. My voice got louder. I couldn't contain it anymore. I prayed for my work, my coworkers, my dogs, my trip to Africa, my testimony, my family and friends, everything. I prayed harder than ever, but in the end, I let go. I gave it to Him to just take care of. And He's being clear that my letting go is only going to let Him do what He's been planning all along.

Let Him use your story.
Lee's final point reminded me of the testimony I was creating - Let Him use your story. The story of our lives has to be given back to Him. He gives us free will but He knows us before we were formed. And although if felt like He wasn't there through all of it, He was allowing us to use our own story to help someone else in theirs. I'm ready to write my testimony, and I'm giving the fear of it to God so I can stop worrying about it. It's not about me anyway, it's about the lives it has the potential of changing. 

What's your story?

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