Sunday, September 21, 2008

Failure...As Seen On T.V.

You know those Swiffer ads where the mom is sweeping all sorts of shit up lickety-split thanks to this amazing cleaning invention? That's a pretty good comic sketch of my life. Here is this great new product designed to make your life easier. Just open the trashcan after cleaning and pop off the disposable Swiffer head. No fuss no muss. Then you realize you miss the simplicity of a broom, and the Swiffer finds a comfortable place in the closet to retire after a week's worth of work.

I've started a lot of things, squandered a lot of money on projects, invented a lot of things, and I've abandoned most of them in course of my life. I guess these aren't failures per se; I consider them to be, at the very least, embarrassments I would prefer not to be reminded of. But they make up my 'accomplishments' in this life.

I like it when Jesus is talked about as a 'failure.' Preaching a Kingdom, gaining a following, inspiring hope, and then dying in humiliation on a cross. It is the picture of someone who talked big and was harshly put in his place. Jesus was stamped out, the flock scattered--an embarrassing legacy to attest to. Then He came back.

When I took a tour of the Ambler Wastewater Treatment Facility for my birthday last year, the guy in charge told me that EPA inspectors can tell if a plant has discharged more than their allotted amount of effluent by looking for tomato plants. Tomato seeds survive the human digestion process and find their way to shit-soaked soil only to grow into a healthy fruit-producing plant. Amazing. Like Jonah in the whale, Jesus spent three days in the underworld and then rose. If they would have tossed his body, it might not have happened that way.

And so I think I will keep my failures as my greatest accomplishments.

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