The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Freedom to fail

The wooded trails, the clear sky and the sound of birds all created a reflective mood. A multitude of worship times and the silence I practiced enhanced this experience as well. I was at the Abbey of Gethsemani south of Bardstown, Ky., on a retreat.

One of the books upon which I reflected was Out of Solitude by theologian Henri Nouwen. He writes that when Jesus went off to pray, he became aware that all he did came from his Father. In the lonely place Jesus was made free to fail, Nouwen said.

From this experience a meditation came to me. My solitude and relationship with God allow me the freedom to fail because the results belong to God too. First, we must have solitude and a relationship with God that comes from daily prayer, reflection and Bible study. Secondly, when we are guided to do ministry for God in Jesus' name, we don't have to worry about failing. The results all belong to God.

As Christians, we are in the world—but not of it. Thus we have to do certain things to survive and live in the world. However, in striving for God's kingdom we must look to Jesus as our guide. Jesus wasn't afraid of failing because everything he did came from God.

My time at this retreat opened my spirit to realize that being faithful was enough because the results belong to God, not us. We have the freedom to risk even failure because of our solitude and relationship with God. We don't try to fail, of course, but when we are faithful to our call as disciples we realize that the ultimate outcome is in God's hands.


This week's front page features:

novcover3When the world overwhelms: (right) Don't run with the turkeys, but walk with God.

Dismantling patriarchy: One man's journey.

Leaders struggle to resolve campus ministry losses.

Renounce the devil: We can't block evil—but pray, with Jesus, to be kept faithful.

AlsoBig Bear Hug.

AlsoHelping vets heal.

AlsoNow what? Teens' Facebook posts risque.

Read these articles at our front page ...

Discuss Walking with God

Linda NormanNov. 10-17: Join Linda Norman (right) to discuss walking with God during anxious times.

Consider reading "When the world overwhelms" before joining in.



Staff blog Julie

Julie Sevig (right) blogs about a Reformation gift.

Check out our staff blog ...


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February issue


Embracing diversity