Sunday, June 29, 2014

A Big Step Forward

Last Sunday, Nate took a big step forward in his language accomplishments and role at the church. He served as the "moderator" of the Sunday morning worship service, i.e. the point person who provides introductions and transitions. He welcomed everybody, facilitated times of prayer, read announcements, and most importantly, gave a 5-minute devotional. This was a HUGE accomplishment for him in regards to his progress in German. Although he spent a lot of time preparing his remarks, it also included quite a bit of extemporaneous speaking, and he did a great job. To be able to speak in front of a crowd that much is a great milestone to reach and demonstrates his comfort in and grasp of the language. I really enjoyed seeing him up there and was proud of him for being able to fill this important role at church, after only being here for less than 2 years.

His devotional thoughts were also good, though I thought I would share them with you. Here is a rough translation of the devotional he shared with the congregation:

"I have just begun reading a book* about failure. Normally, we think that we should try to avoid failure at all costs, but this author sees it the other way around. She suggests that it is only through failure that we truly learn. When we accomplish things successfully, the list of things that we do is relatively short and we are not given the chance to grow.

The more I think about this idea, the more it seems true to me. When one thinks about the how he learns something, it is always through trying and failing. This makes me think about our daughter, Ellie, and how many things she needs to learn and find out on her own. But no one believes that failure is pleasant. No one wakes up and thinks, "today, I'm going to try to make mistakes as much as I can!" Of course not!

Last week, I was in the States to attend a conference and this idea was constantly on my mind. The head of our organization posed a question during one of our sessions about failure. He said that the gospel gives us a model for how we should understand failure. And this indeed depends on our beliefs about the idea, that our relationship with God is broken and that we could never pleasure God through our own strength and ability. We need to accept failure, in order to truly understand the gospel and to accept the grace of God. We must be honest with ourselves and God about our weaknesses. We are saved through grace and not through our own striving. "

*Book credit: The Upside of Down by Megan McArdle

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