What God does with your mistakes

DSCN5627I’d just arrived at the hospital in the Northwest Frontier Province of Pakistan, travelling in a taxi with door handles falling off and lumpy, lopsided seats.

A preacher whose name I don’t remember was speaking in the hospital chapel that weekend, reminding us that failure is never final with God. God never discards broken things—He values them. The preacher told us about the making of Persian carpets. The master designer creates a pattern, and numerous craftspeople work on it together. If one of them makes a mistake, they do not take it out—that would weaken the fabric. Instead, the master designer redesigns the pattern, incorporating the mistake. Often the result is even more beautiful than the initial pattern.

Seventeen years later and I’m listening to another preach about Jesus’ promise: “I am the vine, you are the branches. If anyone remains in me, and I in him, he will bear much fruit.” (John 15:5)

I’ve struggled to believe that. Oh, I’ve thought I believed it, but my fear of failure showed me that something else was going on. But today I realize I’ve finally begun to trust that promise. Living in Him, with Him in me, I will bear His life into the world. Because the promise is not that I won’t make mistakes along the way. The promise is that my mistakes will never be greater than God’s creative grace.

8 thoughts on “What God does with your mistakes

  1. momfan says:

    I love the illustration of the master Persian carpet maker incorporating his apprentices’ mistakes into the design and making it even more beautiful. I remember Mrs. G. (Kitty Anna Griffiths) telling a similar story once, of a missionary couple in whose home she stayed. He was an artist, and was painting a stunningly beautiful mural on their living room wall. After supper his children were allowed to help him paint the mural for a few minutes before bed. Watching, Mrs. G. was horrified that they were ruining the work of art, but dared not say anything since their father seemed to be so enjoying watching and helping his children paint. After their mother had taken them to bed, she asked the artist how he could let them ruin his painting! “Just for the joy of letting them be with me and learn from me,” he smiled, and picked up the brushes and simply and confidently began incorporating their mistakes and childish efforts into his design. We’ve reached Peter’s denial of Jesus in our John study this evening, and this post made me wonder how many millions of Christians have been encouraged over the centuries that their failure is not the end of their usefulness to Jesus because of Peter’s mistake (and the mistakes of many others throughout Scripture) having been incorporated into God’s perfect design!

  2. Klara van der Molen says:

    Just reading this and am glad I did, needed to read it, perhaps daily for now!!! Thank you for encouraging us all the time, it is hard to look past our mistakes at times!! Also important to remember we are still branches of the Vine, however small, sometimes not so healthy!!

  3. Esme Stokhuyzen says:

    I really needed that before starting another grief group this week….and its a challenging group too. I’ve always struggled to claim that promise for myself in my work at Hospice….many reasons I can think of, fear being one of them. I will carry the thought that God’s creative grace is larger than any mistake I may make during the next 8 weeks of group. Thanks again.

    • Thanks for sharing that, Esme. Isn’t it interesting how many of us struggle to trust this promise about ourselves even though we can look at those around us and see very clearly its truth as we watch the life of Jesus bearing fruit in and through them? Much grace to you as you begin with this new group!

  4. “My mistakes will never be greater than God’s creative grace.” Thanks for this!

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