A Story About God’s Grace When We Fail

My wife and I recently purchased our very first home. I could write a series of posts about God's faithfulness and generosity towards us through the process - but this post is about a personal fail that led to a surprising picture of God's grace.

It was our first full day in our new house. The day before, we had a small village of friends and family to come help us move. After we got the U-Haul and small fleet of economy cars unpacked, it was time to get settled in.

The next day we began to knock out the boxes when I thought it would be a good idea to check the air filter in the A/C unit. Who knows how long that's been in there? They can get nasty. So, I went in search of the attic feeling pretty responsible and thinking this initiative could earn me some bonus points with the wifey.

Well, I found the skinny ladder to the attic, climbed said skinny ladder, and went up in search of the A/C unit. A few minutes later, this was the scene in our living room.


In my hurry to get the job done, I missed a board on the attic catwalk and stepped right through the ceiling. Boom! My wife was sitting on the couch when I came crashing through. She screamed thinking we were under attack. Our dog barked incessantly at the dirty blizzard of insulation that poured into our house. As I looked down in disbelief through the mess of a hole I just made, the feelings of failure and frustration began to set in.

Thoughts of condemnation

Did that really just happen? How could I do this? Why did the previous owner set up the attic boards this way? Indiana Jones couldn't have made it through this unscathed! How am I going to pay for this? What will people think? Man, what an idiot. I couldn't even go a day without messing up our new home! On and on these thoughts of frustration, excuse making, and embarrassment kept coming. Way to go, Joe. Attic 1, Joe 0. 

Trying to Fix it Myself

Not being the most handy guy around, I knew less than a minute into the first DIY video that this repair was way over my head. Figuratively and literally out of my reach. Ok, I'll stop the puns there.

How much would it cost for this? Whether it was a few hundred or so, it didn't matter. With all of the closing costs and finances needed to move, we simply didn't have the resources to pay a professional repair then.

Now what?

Picture of God's Grace

After exhausting all my options, I decided to call my dad. Pride aside, my need was too great for me to hide. Fittingly, my dad is a painting contractor who's repaired damaged walls and ceilings for over 30 years.

When I told him about the accident, he was there the next day with all the tools and supplies already on hand. I watched him repair the hole and teach me how he did it. I offered to pay for his help but he refused, saying this was a gift and a joy to do for his son.

It ended up being a three day project for him. On the final day, he checked his work and put the finishing touches of paint over the primer. The hole was not only restored but it looked as good as new, if not better. 

Reminders of God's Grace in Our Failures

For weeks now, I've wanted to share this story with my closest friends because I'm so grateful for the work, skill and love of my father. It's a picture of God's grace to me.

Wherever you're at today, may these truths of God and the Gospel be reminders for us to draw near to God when we fail.

1. We all fall short

"For all have fallen short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23

While it might not have been through a ceiling, we've all fallen short of God's glory.

It doesn't say that I've fallen short of the standard of my peers - that I'm better or worse than Johnny or Julie next to me. It doesn't say that I've attained the glory of God because I'm not as bad as so and so. It is saying that I've fallen short of God's glory.

This is important because it helps us to see how great God is and how great our need of forgiveness is.

Everyone needs forgiveness. Yes, every person is beautifully made in the image of God and there are things in creation that are truly awesome. But let us not fool ourselves into believing that we are awesome before God on our own merit. Let us remember how much we have been forgiven at the cross. Let us remember Jesus died for our sins so that we could be forgiven. Let us remember that he was raised from the dead so we could also walk and be made new. Let us remember that when we trust in Him we receive his righteousness that we could never earn (2 Co. 5.21).

2. Our Failures Don't Define Us

"Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers." Luke 22:31-32

Simon Peter was one of Jesus' closest disciples. Jesus trusted Peter and chose him to be a leader of his brothers. Jesus also knew that Peter would betray him. Jesus was of course right, predicting the very hour that Peter would deny him.

It's a blow away for me that this is the response of Jesus, the King of the universe, when I turn my heart to trust in other things. He prays for me. He convicts me and disciplines me when I drift to trust in empty things. And like Peter, he restores me when I run to him (John 21:15-17).

3. Our Failures Become Fuel for Thanksgiving

All of this is for your benefit. And as God's grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory. 2 Corinthians 4:1

When I saw my mistake in light of what my dad did, I wanted to share that story with others. When people walk in the room, I show them where the hole used to be. This is when I boast in my weakness to give thanks for the gift of my dad.

When we recognize the holes God's covered in our lives, or promises to bring to completion one day, it's reason for us to give thanks to him.

How does the Gospel reshape the way we look at your failures?

What area in your life can you invite God in to give you grace in your failures?

Wherever you're at today, know that Jesus loves you and has grace for you in your failures.


Joe Paolino