Also, thanks for those of you who saw my status update on Facebook and were praying for me as I had been asked to say something as well. I'm glad I sounded coherent (I stuck to just reading my thing verbatim) enough anyway. I was also blessed to hear that the lesson I taught (including God's working in my life over the last two years) had impacted the girls on the trip. So glad to know our story with Malachi is being used for His glory.
Anywho... here's what I said:
As many of the teens have mentioned—and I’m sure will continue to do so—we had a great time together on the winter retreat. Jackson even joined us and I was definitely thankful that he cooperated the entire time. Besides bedtime, I don’t think he went one minute without being held and loved on. I was also fortunate enough to get to know the girls a little better and I’m excited to build on those relationships.
But even more than that, I was blessed through the lesson I was assigned to teach. My chapter from the book Rescuing Ambition was called “Ambitions Failure.” Dave Ramsey stresses the point that failure is often ambition refused for a better plan—more specifically, for God’s better plan. When teaching to the girls, I used both the author’s example of David Brainerd in missions as well as how God has recently used this principle of ambition refused in my own life with Malachi. The lesson itself was an encouraging reminder to me that God was and is in control. John and I have been brought face-to-face with the truth of Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” The main thing, however, to keep in mind with that verse is that it only holds weight for those who love God and are called according to His purpose. As a Christian, I can cling to the fact that all circumstances in my life have the potential to bring glory to God.
I concluded my lesson with this excerpt from Rescuing Ambition:
In the shadow of failure we find humbling grace. We learn that we’re limited.
We discover that God is more interested in who we’re becoming than in what we’re achieving. We find our definition not in our failures or successes but in Christ.
For David Brainerd, failure was a lesson, not a label. It didn’t condemn him; it coached him. The practice of trusting God and humbling self became a paradigm for enduring future disappointments for the moments when ambitions remain unrealized…
Remember, we fail because we’re not God. Whether it’s the result of selfish ambition or the design of God for our good, failure isn’t foreign. Failure is ambition refused (one way or another) for a better plan.
Brainerd persevered, and eventually God smiled upon his service: Revival broke out among the Delaware Indians. God was faithful indeed.
But God’s smile and his faithfulness are still there even if, in this life, we never see any fruit from our ambition being redirected by failure into God’s better plan…For David Brainerd, God’s grace and mercy meant that his failure opened a door for new ambitions. His expulsion was God’s redirection. And within a few years, one of the greatest theologians in the history of the world, Mr. Edwards himself, was publishing Brainerd’s diary. And that diary, including Brainerd’s account of God’s dealing with him in failure, became one of the most influential tools in the history of world missions. God redeemed even his greatest mistake.
His ambition was rescued when it was refused for a better plan.