Next Steps

The following is a devotion from my message series 10 Steps to Freedom. I hope these devotionals help you experience lasting freedom in Jesus!

STEP NINE: day 1         

Fail forward and keep pressing on

What do I do when I mess up? If you’ve ever tried to overcome something for long enough, you’ve inevitably run head first into this damning question: what do I do when I mess up? For the vast majority of us, it’s a question of when, not if. Our lives are not one straight trajectory of increasing perfection. We’re going to mess up, we’re going to make mistakes. To use the old phrase for relapsed alcoholics, we’re going to “fall off the wagon” at some point. Failing in and of itself isn’t a sign of failure. Failing is the price tag for being a broken, sinful human (which we all are). The key is not if your fail but how you fail. Do you fail backwards or do you fail forwards?

When you fail backwards you relapse into a condition worse than where you were before. You go from drinking to blackout drinking. You relapse from sadness and anxiety to full blown depression with suicidal thoughts. That’s failing backwards. Jesus himself gives us a scary picture of what failing backwards looks like:

“When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.” Luke 11:24-26

That’s what it looks like to fail backwards. Failing backwards never leads to freedom. Step nine is all about learning to fail forward.


  1. Have you stumbled and fallen in your quest to be free? What happened?
  2. What does your cycle of failure look like? Would you say you fail forwards or backwards?

You can read other devotional entries for 10 Steps to Freedom here.

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