I look in the mirror and failure glares back—failure as a wife, failure as a mother, and failure as a child of God. Drowning in great waves of doubt, I hesitate to pray. Why would God answer the doubt-filled prayer of a miserable failure? I recognize I am woefully inadequate in the three most important areas of my life.
One Sunday evening this failure walks into church fighting to hold back tears. A godly woman grabs hold of me and asks, “Can we talk? I have something I need to share with you.” We find a quiet room where she looks me straight in the eye and boldly proclaims, “God wants you to know that you are precious to Him. You are the apple of His eye.” The tears that I had fought to hold back refuse to be held back any longer. The dam bursts and with agonizing sobs I share with her the many ways I am failing.
That woman totally ignores my pathetic assessment of my miserable self and simply begins to pray. “Lord, show her she’s the apple of your eye. Show her how precious she is to you. Bring her joy and laughter.” Her prayer is very specific, seemingly stuck on the apple of God’s eye theme. She prays that same prayer every time I blurt out another area of failure—at least half a dozen times.
Parting company an hour later, I am emotionally drained. I don’t feel particularly special to God or to anyone else. I certainly don’t see myself as the apple of God’s eye, but I walk away with a faint glimmer of hope. Really? Could God see me as special when all I see is failure?
Arriving at work the next morning, I find an envelope on my desk—a card placed by a co-worker who has no idea of the turmoil I feel. On the front of the envelope is a small sticker—a picture of an apple with the words, “You are great!” Remembering the very recent prayer session, I smile and open the envelope to find a brief three-sentence note of encouragement. The middle one reads, “You are the apple of His eye.” A huge lump forms in my throat and my eyes grow misty. Could this be a personalized message from God’s heart to mine?
When I return from lunch a few hours later, I find a humongous apple on my desk. That afternoon our most recent publication is distributed to employees; its cover—a huge red apple with the title, The Gift of Love. I laugh out loud, throw my arms into the air in praise to God, and say, “I get it, God! I get it!”
That life-changing day I move from the oppressive drive of perfectionism and legalism into the glorious freedom of grace. God has shown His precious acceptance of this miserable failure in such a personal and tender way. I have freedom to boldly enter His presence, freedom to seek His help, knowing that His grace receives me when I have failed, and He receives me exactly where I am.
Grace is all about the freedom we have in and through Christ. Jesus has set us free to enter God’s most holy presence. He specializes in taking messed-up failures, cleaning them up, and demonstrating His glory though them.
Do you realize how deeply God loves and treasures you regardless of failures in your life? Grab hold of the freedom that is so lavishly offered through the grace of God. His love is reaching out to you today. Receive it, cherish it, and enjoy grace-based freedom.