The Power of Rejection

Rummaging through old items in my room today, I came across a number of things that evoked memories of different moments of my life; among those are the following: a letter I received from then-President Bill Clinton in 2000, a handwritten copy of the Ten Commandments I used likely once when reciting them at a youth meeting, a thank you card I received from the UCO president while I was a journalist there.

But there are 2 items in particular that stand out that have special meaning, one that speaks of the power of failure/rejection and another that speaks of the grace of  God. The second item will be my next posting.

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I have in my position a letter I received years ago. I was in college at the time and not living at home, so I did not get the letter until I came home one weekend. And upon arriving home I saw this letter waiting for me. I saw that it was from the company I had applied to and immediately hope built inside of me.

The excitement of possibly starting a new position in this great company was rising inside me. The rush of going to work there the first day, settling into my desk, became the overwhelming thought of the day. That position was a role that involved a lot of movement and interaction with senior staff, and the thought was exciting to say the least. But before I could go further, I had to open the letter, just to be sure.

Inside the envelope was a brief letter informing me that the position I had applied for had been filled. My immediate reaction was one of utter disappointment, but it was my next reaction that was more significant. In the emotion of the moment, I considered how ridiculous it was for me to think I was qualified for that position. What audacity did I have to think I was capable for that job?

As these thoughts were going on inside my head, I realized I had to decide what to do with the letter, and I basically had two options: throw it away, or keep it. In that moment, I made a surprising decision (upon reflection) and decided to keep it.

Till this day and into the future, I will refer to that letter of rejection to serve as a token of the many failures that led me to the place of ultimate success God leads me to. When I see that letter, I am reminded of all the failures and rejections of my life thus far and how they all played a part as to where I am today.

I was not selected for that job, but because of not getting that job I gained other valuable experiences that helped shape who I am today. EVERY experience you endure in your life shapes who you are and become. Your greatest failures and rejections are opportunities for growth and development that you would never get otherwise. 

In the words of American poet and author Maya Angelou, “You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” 

You may want something so bad, a dream you want oh so badly to be fulfilled, but it may not happen in the timing and season you would prefer. When that occurs, what is your next reaction? For most of us, it is frustation, fear of the next step.

But for the redeemed child of God, there is but one source of hope, as expressed by the writers of Psalm 42 (v. 11, NIV84):

“Why are you downcast, O my soul?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.”

—-

My disappointment from that rejection letter is the same as it was on that day, but the strength I gained from dealing with that rejection only made me stronger in subsequent rejections. The power of reflecting on those failures when great successes do occur is important to understand. It is important to recall from where you came and what experiences shaped you on your journey to success. Every rejection I endure is part of a journey to the great success God has in store for me. But I must wait patiently for that moment, and in the meantime, dwell on the words of the prophet Habakkuk (3:17-19, NIV84):

“Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
 he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, 
he enables me to go on the heights.”

A lifetime ahead of me

For those who were at PCNAK in Houston a few weeks ago, you may remember Jason James’ message from Thursday night. In it, he mentioned the feeling of holding his nephew and envisioning that baby’s future. Today, I had the privilege to hold my niece Olivia Grace Varghese, and as she stared at me with her eyes wide open, I was in awe.

In awe of the fact that this baby girl is an innocent person, new to the world but known to God long before she was born. This baby girl has a chance to make a difference in this world, and she has no baggage behind her at this moment. But one day, when she is old enough, she will make a mistake, and another, and another, and fall into the trap of sinful mankind. I just want her to stay innocent like this as long as possible.

I saw my niece’s eyes searching today, searching her surroundings. It was something amazing, something I’ll never forget. My hope and prayer is that one day, those eyes will be searching for the good in the world, and bringing the joy of Christ into the lives of others through her life.

When I consider the innocence of Olivia Grace Varghese right now, I am saddened and frustrated by own shortcomings. I wonder how in 23 years of life I have messed up as much as I have. I want to go back to her stage, start over, start from scratch. It’s funny, I’ve heard my whole life the gospel and about the rebirth we have in Christ. But seeing a brand new baby girl born into the world with a chance to do something amazing is unique and unforgettable.

Yes, I’ve been saved. Yes I know the gospel. God looks at me with the robe of righteousness that covers my sin, and I have a divine purpose to accomplish. And by God’s grace I will accomplish those things.

But oh what it would be to go back and to correct those pitfalls I had. Those thoughts I shouldn’t have thought. Those things I shouldn’t have said. The things I should have done when I did nothing. But I can’t go back, only forward.

Olivia Grace has a lifetime ahead to accomplish great things. Though I have my scars and past sins, I am refreshed by the grace of God and have the chance to yet do that as well. Oh how great is the grace of my God.

“It Can’t End This Way”

I signed up a while ago for Pastor Jentezen Franklin’s podcast updates on iTunes. But apparently I hadn’t updated it in a while. And so in the midst of this snowstorm and down period of my life, I updated the podcast and a message entitled “It Can’t End This Way” came up.

I listened to it, and from the very start I was encouraged that this was a message from God just for me in this time.

Because you see, it doesn’t matter what your past is. There are very likely many regrets you are living with right now, as am I. But there’s an urgent message for the body of Christ now, and that now, especially now, is not the time to give up on your God-given purpose in life, on your dreams, on the vision that you have for your life.

If you’re like me, when things get rough, it is hard to hold and the temptation to lose faith and move backward is very strong. Especially when the weak areas of your life are bearing you down and causing you to stress. Especially when it seems like failure is knocking on your door every day. And you constantly wonder why you keep messing up, and you keep getting frustrated at yourself.

But as Pastor Franklin’s message states, It Can’t End This Way! There is a divine purpose for your life, people you are supposed to impact, and you are meant to glorify God with your life. So it doesn’t matter what the past has been, we as believers must choose to make our futures better. And it is entirely dependent on us making a choice to do so, not just hearing about it.

A thought from Pastor Franklin’s message:
Isaiah 6:4: And the post of the door moved at the voice of Him who cried, and suddenly the house was filled with smoke. Another word for post is “Pillar” – The pillar was there from the beginning, for years, and notice the glory doesn’t come until the pillars start moving.

If we can get the pillars to move again at the sound of His voice.

Can this be your testimony:
“I started in the fire and I’m not going to end up in smoke.”

God is looking for some people who can say ‘It doesn’t matter how rocky or how rough the day has been, but the sun hasn’t set yet, and it can’t end this way.

Can we make this statement today? Can we let go of the past and move forward?

2010: A Chance of Renewal

From the Century Dictionary:
Renew: (From Middle English “renewen”) “To make new again; restore to former freshness, completeness, or perfection; revive; make fresh or vigorous again; restore to a former state, or to a good state after decay or impairment.”

I don’t know about you, but I think it is time for renewal. 2009 was a year that was generally bad with the economy worsening and the individual economies of households across America suffering. And a rebound from the chaos of last year is slow at best, currently in progress. On a personal level, 2009 was a bad year, based on mistakes and a lack of certain accomplishments. And I feel I have pushed other parts of my life to a higher place than God with some choices I made.

But sitting around wallowing in guilt and shame will do no good. I know my life needs a “restoration to former freshness.” I try but cannot remember when life was better and I felt more peace. But I know there was a time when optimism ruled my heart. But I’ve sensed more recently that the optimism I used to feel has changed to more worry and doubt in my own abilities. And that’s just it. It’s not in my own abilities. It is only because of the grace of God I am alive and in the position I’m in.

Yes, 2009 was a year of moments of terrible mistakes and great successes. But I would say the greatest moment of 2009, one of the best anyhow, is that I was able to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Central Oklahoma in December. It was the end of a four-year and one semester phase of my life that was filled with many lessons learned the hard way and memorable moments with newly formed friends. But after all those mistakes, to walk the stage and receive my diploma was a great euphoric feeling.

But now it is 2010. The possibilities are endless, as long as I am willing to work to make them happen and trust in God completely. I am proud to have the privilege of working with ICPF for the coming Awake ’10 camp during Spring Break, with OPYF for the coming Annual Drama, and my church with a long list of things involving the youth group and Sunday School. I have only a tentative idea what will define my life past Spring Break week, but I am confident of one thing: my God is in control and He will guide my paths, as long as I let Him and don’t try to manipulate things into my own path and direction.

Don’t let the regrets of 2009 ruin your 2010. It has been on my mind endlessly, this message of having optimism for the new year. Because for me, it is difficult to get over the mistakes of last year. But we all need to take the approach of moving forward. This song by Israel Houghton should be the anthem for this year: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYaiGB7eYU8.

Don’t let Satan guilt you into letting 2010 be a bad year. Make a solid, firm decision to have hope and change your reality this year. If your reality last year was one of regret and mistakes, let 2010’s reality be one of being an overcomer. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S52FUX3QY_A). If you don’t make a move and don’t decide to allow the Holy Spirit to embolden and lift you up, you are making a choice nonetheless, to let Satan rule your heart. No matter what phase of life you are in, set specific goals to make this year a dramatic, life-changing year for yourself. And after you set those goals, seek the help of the Holy Spirit to boldly move forward in your life and live your life to the fullest with God by your side.