Who still loves cartoons? Any Spongebob fans out there? What about Phineas and Ferb? I’m not too old enough yet to say that I still enjoy Phineas and Ferb, and it might be one of my favorite shows ever. One of the things I love about the show is the way that the characters make the most of the 104 days of summer they have in between school years. In fact, the series has a song entitled Carpe Diem, Latin for “Seize the Day.” Phineas, Ferb, and their friends never let a day of summer go to waste; they always figure out what they’re going to do on each day, and then, whether successfully or not, they do that one thing. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be like Phineas and Ferb, who built a rocketship to mars and a time traveling machine? I definitely would. (I may have a bit of over-obsession about the show, if I’m being honest, but that’s beside the point.)
As I write on New Year’s Eve, I can’t help but think of all those people out there making resolutions for 2015, making plans to seize each day in advance, much like Phineas and Ferb. Who knows how many people are so confidently proclaiming that they will lose weight, get fit, and eat better over this next year? Certainly I hope that everyone thinks about ways they want to improve their physical lifestyle over the next year; even more importantly, I hope that people look at ways to improve their spiritual and emotional wellbeing. And so, perhaps I might offer the reader of this blog a resolution to add to their list.
Over the past few months, I listened to a podcast series by Matt Chandler about the biblical design of men and women and their roles in life. One phrase that Chandler mentioned repeatedly caught my attention, and that phrase has inspired this particular blog post. He said, “Where the ideal lacks, grace abounds.” Hold on to that quote, because I’ll be referring to it later on. You might be asking yourself right about now though, “Self, what does Phineas and Ferb, New Year’s Resolutions, and Matt Chandler Podcasts have in common?” Well hopefully the next few paragraphs will relay what has been stewing in my brain for the past month.
I think a little transparency on my part will be helpful in understanding how all these ideas connect with each other. After much introspection during the previous semester, I realized a big flaw of mine has been a distinct fear of failure, and I’m sure many people will be able to relate to this. I hesitate to put myself on the line, so to speak, for fear of failure or rejection. As a result, it becomes easy for me to be passive in situations that may require action, and I have missed out on many an opportunity for sure (even worse are the opportunities I didn’t even realize I missed out on). In view of next year, I have resolved to be less afraid of failure and mistakes.
My resolution to be less afraid of failure and mistakes is all well and good, but the question then becomes, “How do I escape the fear of failure and rejection?” It really is extremely hard to overcome the fear of rejection, especially when the human mind is so imaginative; however, the resolution needs to become practical in order for it to be useful. For people who have chosen to believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior in this world, the answer is simple, but often forgettable due to the many pulls and distractions of life. Put simply, we rest in Jesus’ perfection, knowing that we can do nothing more or less to cause God’s love for us to change. “Where the ideal lacks, grace abounds.” Even in our shortcomings, God’s grace is sufficient. Wherever we fail and make mistakes, God’s grace abounds. In our sin, God’s grace overcomes. God’s grace grants us freedom from fear of failure (pardon the alliteration).
Because of this grace, we no longer have to worry about being the perfect student, or the perfect child, or even the perfect Christian. “Where the ideal _______ (fill in the blank) lacks, grace abounds.” In fact, God says that his power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Cor. 12:9-10)! Can you believe that? Perhaps our prayers shouldn’t be “Give me strength…”; rather, like John we should pray, “He must increase, and I must decrease.” Do you see how much courage and boldness these verses should give Christians? We should be itching for the opportunity to fail, so that God may be displayed through us. By no means am I saying that we should seek to fail, but rather this knowledge should give us hope in our failures! Our creator God wants us to take risks for Him, because He knows that whether we succeed or not, He can still use it for His own glory. But how can He use our circumstances if we don’t take the risk? We must decide to get off the sidelines, or in Matt Chandler’s words,” GET UP OFF THE COUCH!” and put ourselves out there to be stretched.
In view of all this, let’s make a New Year’s Resolution together, shall we (if it’s not too late)? Let’s all resolve to be more like Phineas and Ferb, who seize the day, every day. Let’s snatch back our time from the things that distract us (dare I say social media?) and make the most of every opportunity. Most importantly, let’s be bold, taking risks when we feel uncomfortable, because we know that in our failures and successes, God works wonders. After all, life’s not about us, is it? It’s about Jesus and what he did on the cross, and I want my life to be about that.
Matt Chandler’s podcast series is called “A Beautiful Design”, a series that is very applicable for both men and women in our day and age. I highly recommend it.
Additional verses: 1 Corinthians 1:25-31 ; Romans 8:28