Success in certain terms

This past week or so I have had myself in a mess. I have been considering the future and worrying about what’s going to go on. It bothers me so much that I can’t predict what will be. I can’t say whether anything will turn out the way I’d like, or whether I will just have to adjust to so many things staying the same even though new seasons of the year are unfolding. Does this sound familiar? Maybe it is — I’m sure I’ve said something along these lines several times by now. But each time I explore these questions in the light of a new situation, I take away lessons that are rich with significance for the times I’m living in. 

This time, I have to ask myself, what makes my life a success? Is it in my dreams coming true without delay, or is it in knowing no matter which way my life unfolds, my Father is caring for me? I have to decide these things if I am to be at peace with God, myself, my life and what happens to me — even if things don’t change.

You see, I have decisions before me. I have prayed about not dwelling on disappointment or the discomfort of my present trials, and God’s answer has been a surprise to me. He says, “I won’t just give this to you; you have to work on it. I have already done enough in your life to know that I am trustworthy and abundant enough to be all that you need. Now you have to work this out in your heart. You know what to believe, you just have to decide to live it out.”

How do we do this? For one thing, I need to stand back and assess my situation based on the truth that I want to live by. I may not be able to count on little things that I would like to enjoy right now, but this cannot — and should not — diminish what I do have and what I can have.

I can live for today, not basing my happiness on anything that I can’t fully enjoy right now. At first this may sound foolish, but I don’t believe this is because it is in any way unbiblical. I don’t want to dismiss the overflow of blessing that I have in this moment that I can only be guaranteed today. I don’t want to hold on for more as if what God has provided for my needs at this time is not enough. I have all the fullness of God to enjoy and to strain for in this moment. I pray that I would not be caught up in vain pursuits that discard my God for lesser things.

See the sovereignty of God in what I lack. He does not expect me to believe that things things are inherently bad or that desiring them is bad, but that by withholding them — even while they be good things — He is teaching me to trust Him without condition. How shall I trust His heart if I do not allow Him to freely take from and give to me whatever He sees as best? Truly it is impossible for me not to grow and benefit from His will if I am putting it first in my life.

God honors the sacrifices of praise that we offer to Him, therefore, let us be swift in lifting them up to Him. My life is not what I hold in my hands in this moment, but in what I hold in my heart. If lacking material, social or temporal things puts me in touch with the abundance of possessing Christ, than I will rejoice in whatever loss I have.

I also need to deal with my perspective on my present and my future. The more aware I become of the truth, the more responsible I become for keeping my heart diligently committed to it. The lesson here seems to be that because I have grown more mature in my faith through the Holy Spirit’s work in various trials, God will no longer be treating me as a child in the faith. He will be calling me to stand up and bear more of the brunt of living for Him. I know how now, after spending so much time observing His love in taking care of me, His consistency in instructing me as a parent, and His provision in building up my spiritual muscle.

Investing in God

Investing in God. If you’ve read any of my recent posts you may have noticed that I have used this phrase or variations of it in several instances. But what does this investing in God mean?

Well, when I began to think about this seriously in anticipation of writing on the topic, I realized that I didn’t really understand a whole lot about this phrase. It worked well for general topics of discussion, but when I scrutinized my knowledge of what it communicated, I found that I needed to learn more about what it was saying so I could better convey my intent.

So, I began with the word invest. And this is what I came up with:

To make a rewarding investment I must make the most of what resources I have. When I am considering God as a possible holding place, I must thoroughly research God’s policy profile — to see whether I can back Him based on what He stands for — and investigate His projection standings — to acquire a vision for where His progression will take me.

Everything that I learn about God, because of my perspective association, immediately affects me both personally and fiscally. I must know what God is about and be able to offer a strong reason for being persuaded that He is equal to the worth I put in Him. I cannot propose backing Him without also knowing how this action will demand of me — in every aspect of my life and livelihood.

I want a good return, but more than that, I want a solid establishment. I can wait a long time for any profit to come from this, if I know that my commitment is being well marked and effectively utilized to promote significant production.

I like the simple definition of  investment provided for us by the Business Management blog right here on WordPress.com:

Investment:

The commitment of funds/finance to one or more assets which will be held over some time period for the purpose of earning returns. [http://bizedu.wordpress.com/2010/07/14/types-of-investment/]

For a lot of us, we look at God, and say, “Nah, I’m not buyin’ in it.” We would rather throw small investments after semi-suitable persons and institutions than stair-down a commit to a single Person with momentous claims that we don’t want to bother checking.

We are comfortable with saying that God is not what we want, but do we really know Him well enough to make this judgment?

I can hear some of you saying right now, “Actually, yes I can: My mom died when I was just a kid. She did nothing to deserve it, but God took her anyway. And He ruined the rest of my life when He did that.”

I am deeply sorry. I grieve that you didn’t get to have more time with her, that your life couldn’t stay like it was when she was here. But then, I am not saying anything to you that you do not already know. I cannot change your life for you, and I will do my best to avoid any pretense of trying. I would just like to use the space I have here to communicate something to you that you may not already know.

There’s more to your story than its past or its present or its future. There’s something more to you than just yourself and I want so much for you to find out what it is. Perhaps you say that you once had faith, but God destroyed all hope of that too, when He disappointed you on such a crucial point of life. Where can He stand with you now that He has taken so much away from you?

The answer is that He stands exactly where He always has: at the door of your heart, waiting. He has been waiting on you since the day He formed you in the womb, and He waits still.

He waits not to condemn you — He could have done that long ago — and He waits not to sabotage you, but to bless you. Yes, blessing may not look like what you thought, but then again, who says that you’ve already seen it?

The blessing God offers us is His love, pure and simple. But, don’t let those words be swallowed up in the vortex of an over-used phrase. Don’t think that you have taken God’s love at face value until you have looked at its face, and seen your own clearly reflected in it.

Love cannot be measured for its depth and essence and even its ability to touch our heart until it has been accepted and yielded to. Now, by yield I mean so much more than an act of “giving in” or limply submitting. Rather, I am speaking of an attitude of the heart that turns to God, and leans in — receiving the truth of what He says and responding to what He asks of us.

When we do that, we will not be disappointed. Mind you, it is every single thing that is done short of that that will most definitely disappoint.

You see, God’s love is a recipe for life, for fullness of heart. It is not a promise of good times, but good tidings. After all, great joy is the work of Someone on the inside of us, not something on the outside of us.