Tuesday, May 6, 2014

A Monumental Failure

Who redeems your life from destruction…Psalm 103:4

Hillside Monument Company was located in the low rent industrial section of town. Specializing in grave markers, decorative cornerstones and other construction needs, most business was transacted off-site. The office was small, unpretentious and adequate for accommodating the occasional customer that stopped in. Jim Forest, the owner, was busy finalizing the delivery of some materials when a stranger entered. Dressed in work clothes, Jim assumed the man was looking for a job, not to make a purchase.

“Can I help you?” Jim asked.

“I hope so.” The man walked over to Jim’s desk. “I’d like to buy a monument.”

Grabbing the binder of photos tastefully displayed in plastic sleeves, Jim motioned to the chair next to the desk. “You’ve come to the right place. Have a seat. What’cha got in mind?”

“Something truly grand and glorious, you know…monumental.”

Jim’s mind raced furiously. Normally customers only wanted modest grave markers. Other than the mausoleum he’d done years before for the Holten family, most pieces his company produced were relatively small. Thinking hard Jim couldn’t recall anyone of prominence who had recently died and whose passing would warrant an elaborate edifice. The man standing before him didn’t exactly look the prosperous type.

“It has to be large,” his customer continued. “I don’t want anyone to miss it.”

“Well,” Jim responded, “this must be to honor someone very special. Is the departed a close friend or relative?”

“Oh no,” the stranger laughed, “no one died. This is a monument about me!”

“I see.” He really didn’t but Jim needed to say something. This guy’s an egomaniac, he though. “Let me guess. You just received a job promotion? Wait, don’t tell me. You’re celebrating an anniversary with a special someone.”

The gentleman smiled and shook his head no.

You’ve finally got the kids grown and out of the house on their own. In this economy that is a feat worth celebrating.”

“No, nothing like that.”

“I got it! You just won the Mega-Million Lotto drawing and now you’ve got more money to squander than you ever dreamed possible?”

“Wrong on all counts,” the stranger happily answered.

“Ok, I’m stumped. I give up. What’s this all about?”

“Actually,” the man began, “my life’s in shambles. I didn’t get a promotion. After twenty years of loyal service my company let me go. My spouse threw in the towel and left. Our marriage is over. My finances are quickly evaporating. The kids are still at home and there’s no end in sight on that front. Everything that can go wrong has.”

Jim stared at the man, flabbergasted. He could hardly believe what he was hearing. “Correct me if I’m wrong. This is what you want to memorialize?”

“That’s correct,” the man replied quickly. “I’m going to erect a monument to failure.”

Jim was beginning to think he had a nut job on his hands. He patted his pant’s pocket to confirm his cell phone was there. “Geez, I hope I have bars,” he thought to himself.

Speaking slowly and carefully Jim queried the stranger. “I don’t mean to be rude. People normally hide their mistakes and showcase their accomplishments. They’d rather be remembered for their successes.”

“Very true,” the affable stranger agreed. “I want people to see a celebration of my biggest defeats.”

Jim shook his head. “I’m confused. You want a monument that highlights the lowest point of your life. Why?”

“Elementary my good man, when people see how far down I fell they will truly appreciate how high God raised me up when He restored me. This isn’t about glorifying my mistakes and failures but magnifying God’s ability to turn things around and redeem lives from destruction. This monument marks the beginning of my comeback. When people see what a mess my life was and how God reversed my misfortunes, they’ll have hope that He can do the same for them. As an act of faith I’m memorializing my comeback before it ever happens.”

“Now I get it,” Jim exclaimed. “This is to commemorate the death of a monumental failure. It should be grand and glorious. Let me suggest granite or even marble….”

Over the course of the next few hours the two men finalized the design of a memorial that would give those facing defeat and at the lowest point of their lives a tangible starting place to begin their own journey of restoration.

When our backs are to the wall and we’re facing the greatest difficulties of our lives it’s time to build a monument. Those experiencing similar situations will more easily relate to when we were down then to when we got our lives back together again. Our marker will remind them that God is able to redeem any life from destruction and what He did for us He’ll do for them.  Celebrate in your defeats; build a memorial to monumental failure. It’s all uphill from here!


  1. This one is awesome! Thanks, Mary!

  2. Yes, this is one very interesting story. It makes me stop and think about some people I know. One of our pastors lost his family,his job, and his home all at once. He talks about what he went through and how God provided for him during the transition time.