Success or Failure? That depends… whose opinion counts?

Some friends of mine are going through a rough transition, walking away from something they’ve poured their heart and soul into for a lot of years. Have you ever been through that?

You catch hold of a dream – a calling – and you give everything to make a go of it. It’s not just your livelihood, though that certainly plays a big part in it. You invest your time, your talent, your family, not to mention your hopes and dreams – it becomes an integral part of who you are. Although it’s a difficult road and not always easy, that’s ok, because you are doing what God made you to do – this is your life!

And then, it falls apart.

The vision doesn’t pan out. The dream dies… slowly… painfully. You were doing what you were called to do one day, and the next day, you’re not.

It’s over.

What just happened? And, what do I do now?

As I heard about the changes my friends are going through, I really empathized and wanted to encourage them, because I’ve been through it too. For me, it was a business venture that was a “calling” – it was the first time I truly felt like I was doing what I was made to do. When it crashed and burned (15 years ago), I struggled for a long time to make sense of what happened.

The thing that was hardest for me to get past (and I’ve caught glimpses of my friends struggling with) is feeling like a failure. When your identity is so wrapped up in what you do, if that thing “fails”, sometimes you can’t help but feel that you are the failure.  But is that really true?

If we are doing what God calls us to, and it doesn’t work out the way we expected it to, does that mean that we failed? Or perhaps, does it mean that our expectations, our dreams and visions and even what we thought God had promised us… well, maybe those weren’t really part of God’s plan after all?

God isn’t surprised when the ventures we work on “fail”, but we are. And that’s probably a good thing, because if we thought going in that we would fail, we would never step out in faith.

But, we know God is calling, so we do step out in faith, believing for the best and hoping that he will bless our endeavors. Whether God blesses the results or not is not what really matters — our “success” in God’s eyes is tied to whether we are faithful to walk with him and follow his call.

Hebrews 11 gives us plenty of examples – the heroes of faith – those that were faithful to follow God yet v.39 says that “none of them received what they were promised.”

In our humanity, we judge success based on the ‘tangible’ results, whether it’s buildings, money, headcounts… whatever. But that’s NOT what God will judge us on — he looks at us as his dearly loved children and asks simply, “Do you love me?”  And maybe on top of that, ”Are you loving your brothers and sisters?”

One verse in particular has helped free me from feeling overwhelmed by self-imposed expectations of what God wants from me. That verse is Micah 6:8:

“He has shown you, o man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.”

We will never be “perfect” in this life: we still sin and we still fail. But, if we are faithful to God’s call and walk humbly with him, then someday God will look upon us and say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

What more could I ask for?

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The Wandering Follower

Lord, here I am, wandering again in the desert
Wondering where this dusty road will lead
Though I’ve never been here, this terrain looks so familiar
Is there a trail of manna crumbs for me?

I don’t know why I expected it to be different… this time.
Your yoke is easy but the road is rocky and hard
I guess the dreams and visions I had of grandeur were not yours
What you deem grand are the changes in my heart.

All I know is that you call me to follow
And following you just may cause me to bleed
But this path was made by the blood that paid the price to set me free
Your grace and mercy, and knowing you, these are all I need.

I won’t claim to understand what you’re doing
And I don’t claim to comprehend your will
Maybe that’s how you felt when you hung upon that tree
Maybe that’s how you felt when you died for me?

I won’t claim to understand what you’re doing
And I don’t claim to comprehend your will
All I know is that you’re good and faithful to me
All I know is, I will follow you.

Jesus, won’t you give me strength so I can follow you?

As I started this post, I was thinking it was for my friends that are going through a difficult transition and stepping out in faith… and so it is.

But it’s also for me. And for every believer that struggles with doubts and feelings of failure. Jesus is walking with us, calling us to follow him… but he doesn’t promise to make it easy.  After all, we are following in his footsteps, aren’t we?

Have you been in the “desert”, wondering as you wander?  Are you there now?

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