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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Do you believe?

I have failed many times. Still do. 

In fact, I may be in the middle of one of the biggest failures of my life. And what am I facing? A lack of belief that I can succeed. What I’m doing I believe (today anyway) is what God has called me to do. But it doesn’t appear to be working. 

I can’t help thinking about the scene from The Empire Strikes Back (1980) when Yoda is teaching Luke how to use the Force and suggests he use it to raise the X-wing out of the bog where it has crashed. Luke sighs and says he’ll, “give it a try.” 

To which Yoda says: “No. Try not. Do … or do not. There is no try.” 

 So Luke makes the attempt—and he fails, sinking the ship even further into the swamp. As he wanders off to sulk in his failure (you ever do that?), he accuses Yoda of asking the impossible. 

Then Yoda uses the Force himself to raise the ship. As Luke looks at the resurrected X-wing, he says to Yoda in amazement: “I don’t … I don’t believe it.” 

Yoda replies: “That is why you fail.” 

Why we fail

Is this ever you? Or is it just me? 

Why do we so often not believe in our ability to succeed, but subscribe strongly to the likelihood of our failure? Certainly it has something to do with the “tapes” that play in our minds, as author Lena Nelson Dooley says (see "Comparisons Equal Discouragement," ACFW Journal, Winter 2012). 

But where do those tapes come from? They come, Dooley suggests, from our past failures, from things we’ve said about ourselves, and from things other people have said about us. But where do those comments come from? 

Jesus tells us in The Gospel of John. In Chapter 8, he is debating with the Pharisees about Who He is and trying to get them to see the truth. But they refuse. Finally, he says to them:
Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! (John 8:43-45, NIV)
Because of our fallen nature, we are more prone to listen to the words of our enemy than the words of our Savior—Who will always speak truth. It has been so since the Garden of Eden.

Do you feel you’re failing at what God has called you to do? Who are you listening to? Who am I listening to? 

Who should we be listening to?

Michael Ehret loves to play with words and as editor of the ACFW Journal, he is enjoying his playground. He also plays with words as a freelance editor at, where he often takes a writer Into The Edit, pulling back the veil on the editing process. He has edited several nonfiction books, played with words as a corporate communicator, and reported for The Indianapolis Star.


Ron Estrada said...

Mike, I feel the same way. I gave up on the dream for several years and watched other authors pass me by. And I ask "Is it worth it?" Wouldn't I rather spend my evenings reading books (without ananlyzing them) or watching TV like most of America? But passion is a funny thing. It won't allow us to enjoy someing that is "normal." Unless we're flying at mach 3 and leaving everything we've got on the paper, we'll never be happy. God has a plan. We may find it highly annoying and exhausting sometimes, but He knows what we need.

Adam Blumer said...

We all struggle with these voices of doom and despair. Thanks for articulating the problem so well. I just remind myself, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." If my current pursuit doesn't work after I've given my all, then God must have another path for me to take.

Ron, I'm also there. Working my tail off, yet others pass me by too. That can be discouraging. I haven't given up on the dream, but I've surely been tempted to. Someone once told me, "Never, ever give up." With God's help, I won't.

Jim H said...

Many thanks for the post, Mike. You struck a nerve. I agree with Adam, we must remind ourselves that we "...can do all things through Christ...." But it's that little phrase "through Christ" that often gets me. Am I pursuing the goal of being a full-time writer through Him? Are my motives pure?

These thoughts make me stand aside at times and take a long look at what I'm doing. But they haven't stopped me. I still believe I have His blessing to pursue this. And though others "pass me by," I try not to fret. In this race, I am the tortoise.

Michael Ehret said...

'Passion is a funny thing...'

Yes it is. What we hold on to, holds on to us. And when that thing we're passionate about is a call on our life from God we should feel even more confident. But this is where the enemy comes in, stealing our confidence.

Michael Ehret said...

The thing that has always struck me about that verse is that it's not a promise that we can do ANYTHING. It's a promise that, through the strength of Christ, we can do anything he calls us to. Love 'The Message' version:

"Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am."

Michael Ehret said...

The fact that we question our motives -- is it for God or is it for me? -- is not a bad thing. In fact, I see it as a positive. If it was just for you, you wouldn't be questioning it.

'Standing aside' for a time, as you put it, can be a very positive thing.

Ane Mulligan said...

When you're dong what God has called you to do, you stand on the front lines of the army. That puts you close to the enemy. He shouts while God whispers. ;o)

One of the hardest things to break through is remembering that God doesn't accuse, He encourages. He doesn't blame, He shows you a better way. He doesn't heap guilt on you, He forgives.

Our job is to discern the difference. If you start blaming yourself for a failure, turn around and tell the devil you aren't signing for that package. Kick him in the tail and tell him to get lost. :)

Camille Eide said...

I SO needed this today---more like all of last year. A critical reminder for us "losers". Failure (& the lies that feed it) breeds hopelessness, belief/faith in the truth fosters hope. THANK YOU!!

Michael Ehret said...

Love you, my friend. You have such an encouraging way.

Gina Holmes said...

Excellent post, Mike.

Michael Ehret said...


Glad it helped you. Today, you and I need to embrace the Truth and put action to our belief.

Ginger Solomon said...

I had a similar thought recently. It's so hard to quiet the loud obnoxious noise of our own thoughts, or the words of others, to hear the still, small voice of the Father.

My solution is worship. Praise music that touches a deep place inside me and sing it loud and long until the loud voices are drowned out. :)

Michael Ehret said...

Ginger, I so relate! My favorite songs for this purpose are "Be Still My Soul" and "Redemption Song".

Clarice James said...

As you can see, Michael, you're not alone. I believe I'm doing what God has called me to do. So I write. What I have to watch out for is giving up because God is not taking me where I want to go as fast as I want to get there. (Lots of I's in there, huh?) We're called to do our part; He'll do the rest.

Michael Ehret said...

Wisdom just sort of spews out of you doesn't it? LOL! Thanks for blessing us with this.

So critical: "We're called to do our part; He'll do the rest."

Jim Rubart said...


While on one hand it's unsettling that you've been in my head reading my mind, it's inspiring on the other to read your post and make a choice for truth.


Michael Ehret said...

That is unsettling, Jim. LOL. But I have been wanting to ski a lot lately ... hmmm.

larrywtimm said...

Thanks for your candid article. I can relate to the feelings, both as a pastor and as a writer. And sometimes I keep doing both, even if I don't "feel" like it, because I'm convinced it's what God wants me to do.

Michael Ehret said...

Yeah, Larry, that "convinced it's what God wants" part can be hard to turn away from. Thankfully.

F.A.Ellis said...

Again, another great post.I read it early this morning and it came right on time.

S. Kim Henson said...

Timely. I'm ready to choose God's voice. Really, I am.

Michael Ehret said...


I'm so glad. I'm learning to trust when God places a topic on my heart. I'm rarely alone.

Michael Ehret said...

I pray that you will. And that I will, over and over again and not just today. Blessings.

MaryAnn Diorio, PhD, MFA said...

Thank you for your post, Mike. There are two kingdoms: the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. Both operate by laws. The kingdom of Satan, also called the world system, operates by the law that "Seeing is Believing." The Kingdom of God operates by the law that "Believing is Seeing." With whatever kingdom we agree, its laws will be enforced in our lives (Matthew 18:19).

Thoughtful post, Mike! :)



Michael Ehret said...

I've never heard it expressed that way MaryAnn, but I like it! Thanks for sharing ...