"Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor" - Truman Capote
Failure is relative. Of course not when it comes to an exam or anything of the like, but in many cases it is relative. Some people thrive from failures, some stay down, some are motivated, and some just frown. (Didn't mean for that to rhyme, but why not!).
In terms of service to God, several people have different ways of gauging whether they 'succeeded' or 'failed'. If a lot of people showed up, if there were enough chairs, if the prep was done properly, if people were baptized, or anything. God never ceases to amaze me that truly, "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiaih 55:8-9
Yesterday in my parish, we held our first big local community event. We planned for a huge outdoor BBQ and a 'Movie under the stars'. We did EVERYTHING to make sure this day was perfect. From Google docs to Google hangouts, from early advertising to last minute Costco runs, we were ready. What we wanted to do was to just show our local community (Stony Point, NY) that WE as the Church were there for them. God cared for us, so we should care for them. We had no hidden agenda, no undercover Bible study, just wanted to share God's love with those around us. So from the preparation to the presentation, (man, i'm on a roll with rhyming today huh!), everything was executed perfectly. We split up into teams for games, decorations, food, welcome table, tour guides, parking, everything. We had pamphlets made, sign in sheets, individually wrapped chocolate. We EVEN had a bouncy house. After prayer and prep, we were ready - at 5:30, we were just waiting for the swarm of people to come in. The plan was to come in, meet some people, enjoy a free BBQ and watch Despicable Me on a huge outdoor movie screen that we rented, next to a bon fire with smores. There was not a detail left undone.
We handed out over 450 flyers, going from house to house and then the local police and fire department, the delis and bagel stores, the ice cream shops and shop rites, we did it all. We even went to the local library to hang up a flyer, and the people who worked there had already heard about the event, it had actually become to talk of the town! Now, what do you think happened? Not a SINGLE person showed up, can you believe that? Let's think about this, if we had spread the word so much and people had agreed to come and even to the point where people knew about it that we didn't advertise to, we would expect AT THE MINIMUM, one or two families. No, not one person from the community showed up. Is that a coincidence? I think the only way possible that nobody came, is that it was an act of God, it must have been. What are the chances that zero people show up, if we had verbal agreements from people, flyers, word of mouth, everything. In my opinion, God didn't want anybody to come that day.
What was my take-away? Unity. Throughout the book of Acts, the phrase 'in one accord' is said many times. That's how our team was. From praying together for no rain, to meetings, to dividing responsibilities, we were on the same page. One thing I'm very proud of, is that the group wasn't discouraged. We ended up eating some food and watching the movie on the lawn anyway, (just to get ready for Despicable Me 2 this week!). God has a plan for this group, a great plan, and I think without this SUCCESS, we wouldn't have seen it. We would've thought we did everything by our own efforts. Yes we would've 'thanked God', but inside we would've been so proud of ourselves.
Food for thought? - "But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good" Gen 50:20. God has different plans than we do most of the time. Whether its to be thrown in a pit to later become a leader - or to have no one show up to your party to later finding space to accommodate 3,000 people - God ALWAYS has a plan. Don't ever give up or be discouraged when you are serving God. So was this a failure? Nah, just one big step in the right direction!