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It is 11:30 at night. I look at the clock and sigh; I should start getting ready for bed. My exhaustion presses around me like the darkness outside. And my to-do list doesn’t make things any better.

I feel like a failure.

Instead of a glorious line of checks, there are only a few scattered ones. The paper that seemed so innocent this morning now glares up at me, a blatant reminder of all I have left undone. I fight against the tears that threaten my eyes, but it’s late at night and thus battles are futile. “It’s not even like I worked hard whenever I could but was gone all day or helping Mom or something,” I whimper. “I just…wasted…so much time. I procrastinated. And now look what I’ve done!” Now I really feel like a failure.

I brush the list onto the floor, and discover the slip of paper that had been under it. “Only God gets his to-do list done every day,” reads the quote from C.J. Mahaney. And it’s true, of course, and sort of comforting.

But it’s also a nagging reminder that while He’s always faithful, I’m not.

I’m reminded of this a lot, actually, because there are many nights when I feel I haven’t worked as I should. I love this bit from the Book of Common Prayer’s “Confession of Sin” that prays, “We confess we have sinned against You…by what we have done, and by what we have left undone.” I love this, perhaps because it doesn’t always occur to me to ask forgiveness for what I haven’t done – be it a kindness or my schoolwork or so many other things. And on these days when I look at my list, realize all I haven’t done, and feel like a failure, I realize just how human I really am.

I am not God. I am a finite creature – and I will fail sometimes. Failing, of course, is different from declaring myself a failure: that is a lie, although one I am prone to struggle with when I’m tired. Yet it is precisely my failures and faithlessness that makes me more grateful for God. The world is not on my shoulders – it’s on His. And He is perfectly faithful in running it.

Faithful. What does that mean, anyway? It took me awhile to discover that it meant something other than “sticking to your to-do list” or “working diligently”. Yet it actually means “trustworthy.” No doubt a diligent worker is also a trustworthy one, but when the Bible talks about God’s faithfulness, it really means I can trust Him.

I can trust that He is working in my life even when I’m tired and feel like I’ve ruined everything; I can trust in His promises when life is difficult and I’m surrounded by shadows. I used to wonder to myself, “I know the Bible says I can trust God, and I know I can trust him completely with my head…but sometimes that message never gets through to my heart. How can I know He’ll come through on His promises? I haven’t seen it firsthand.”

Yet I realized something last Christmas, as the nativities and ornaments and packages surrounded me. God’s ultimate promise was redemption; His ultimate promise was that He would send Jesus, a Messiah, a Savior. And if I know that He did that, than I can trust Him to come through on every one of His other promises. In sending Jesus, He proved once and for all that He is perfectly faithful and perfectly trustworthy.

And that is comforting to me, even as I’m frustrated over my own lack of diligence. No amount of faithlessness on my part could ever change His faithfulness to me. Nothing I do could ever mess up God’s plans. And if He is perfectly trustworthy, than that means He will also come through on His promise to forgive me.

That is perhaps the greatest promise ever made. And that makes me grateful, even when it’s 11:30 at night.
-- from the archives


  1. Bookmarking this - such perfect timing! I love how He is faithful, even when I'm not.

    God bless you!

  2. Perfect reminder and truth.


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