When I graduated from college, I applied to a teaching program in the inner city, and I was accepted. I knew almost immediately that teaching in the inner city wasn’t for me. But I was stubborn. I was convinced that if I just pushed myself hard enough and worked really hard and prayed a lot, I could succeed. I was wrong. No matter how hard I worked, no matter what techniques I tried, no matter what shiny new classroom supplies I armed myself with, I could not succeed.
And I had no idea what to do. I had never before failed at something I had truly wanted to succeed at.
Several months after I quit, one of my friends suggested I apply for a teaching job at a school I had attended in middle school. I ignored his suggestion, dismissing it as ridiculous. Didn’t he know I couldn’t teach? The past year had definitely proven that.
A few days later, the school’s principal called me, told me my friend had informed him that I needed a job, and asked me to come in for an interview. I was shocked. I knew, I knew, I was a terrible teacher. Why would they want me? I went in for the interview anyway. And miracles of miracles they hired me.
The strangest thing happened that year: I fell in love with teaching. It brought me such great joy, a joy made all the stronger by the experience of my previous failure.
I had done nothing. In fact I had often done the opposite of what I should have done. And yet, God gave me this incredible gift; He gave teaching back to me. And He did it entirely separately from my own efforts.
Such is the gift of Christ’s righteousness to us. Nothing done in our own power can make us right with God. The strongest, the wisest, the most passionate cannot bridge the gap between their sin and God. But Christ’s strength, goodness, and uprightness is more than enough, and He has given us this righteousness as a gift.
There comes with this gift a sweet, a blessed relief—relief that inevitable failure has become guaranteed success. But alongside that relief also comes a delight. We know that we won’t just succeed, but our success—Christ’s success—will be spectacular.