But Make Sure Now: on failure and a clear path forward

Idyllic rural landscape in golden light

“Don’t be afraid,” Samuel reassured them, “You have certainly done wrong, but make sure now that you worship the Lord with all your heart and don’t turn your back on Him.”

1 Samuel 12:20


Life is full of bad calls. There are plenty of moments where I demand the wrong thing, when I put my trust in something unsure, when my heart chooses to worship someone or something less worthy, where I take a step or make a choice I can’t take back.

Here in this passage, Israel finally acknowledged their sin in rejecting God and demanding a human king, and I thought it was worth considering Samuel’s response:

Yes, you were wrong, but now do this.

“…but make sure now…”

Words that breathe the life of moving forward into the hollow emotion of regret.

When I acknowledge that I’ve been off, the very next right step is just what Samuel describes: worship the Lord with all your heart and do not turn your back on Him.

The natural response to failure is to pull away from the light that exposes it, but God asks us to do the opposite and lean in.

But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.

1 John 1:7-9

His answer is not to withdraw, to pull back, or to turn away. His directions to Israel were this:

Give yourself wholly to me again. Don’t turn away. Don’t turn back. Remember who I am and all I have done for you. You have certainly done wrong. BUT NOW DO THIS. Because we are not finished.

Step one to moving forward from failure is always this: Take your eyes off of the regret and put them on the One who moves you past it and into new chances and clean slates. Because He is not finished with you.

…I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,  I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

Philippians 3:13-14



Help me this day, as I acknowledge my own stumbling, to lay down  my obsession with getting it perfect and take up an excitement toward a God who is not limited by my failures and always offers me a way forward from my heaviest moments.

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