I never had much interest in going to New York City. I’ve seen big cities; I was born and raised near one. But when a teaching conference took me to New York, I found the city fascinating. I’ve now been three times, and each time I discover new things to see and do. (BTW, the most memorable way I encountered the city was on a 42-mile bicycle ride through all five boroughs—me and 42,000 other people cycling through Times Square, Broadway, Harlem, and eventually ending on Staten Island.)

There is one thing in New York I’ll pass on. While I love museums—even quirky ones—the Museum of Failure just doesn’t interest me. This museum is a traveling gallery currently in New York, and it is dedicated to retail products and services that royally bombed with the public. Remember these?

  • Google Glasses
  • New Coke
  • The DeLorean

One reason I don’t care to see this exhibit is because I have my own museum of failure. It’s not one you can visit, but if left unchecked, the exhibits love to play in my brain. Memories come back to me of the stupid things I’ve done over the years, the poorly chosen words I’ve uttered, my embarrassing attempt to … well, never mind. As I said, this museum is not open to the public.

Failures because I was a bone-headed little kid are one thing. Failures because I knowingly stepped outside God’s standard are something else. Pouring the “hot water” from a candle down the sink was a failure, but it was a dumb mistake. (BTW, that “hot water” hardens into wax which your dad has to clean out of the pipes.) Acting out of selfish anger is more than a failure; it is a sin. And all those sins and failures equally play in my memory.

Since I can’t easily erase my own personal Museum of Failure, I chose to rename it. I now call it:

The Museum of Grace

There’s no denying I have failed. But each one of those failures is also a display of God’s grace. I’ve come to Christ with my sins and failures, sought His forgiveness, and He gladly offered it—purely out of love and grace. So, when Satan tries to be a docent and give me a tour of my failures, I just remind him—and myself—of God’s amazing grace.

“And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work” (2 Cor. 9:8).

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people” (Titus 2:11).

I am no longer defined by my failures. I am defined by grace. For that reason, I am not ashamed to mention my failures because they only draw attention to the God who loves me, the One who is bigger than my failures, and the Lord who forgives and removes my sin.

“Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need” (Heb. 4:16).

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