Jack and Hamus had to think for a while about the last time they had seen each other and caught up. By virtue of deduction (or evidence of early-onset Alzheimer’s), they figured it had been 8 years ago, at their graduation ceremony. The dinner conversation was standard fare for two good friends who hadn’t seen each other in nearly a decade – where they were now and how they got there, how much things have changed (or haven’t).
Jack related his journey from being an engineer to a business owner and his parallel journey to finding God and becoming a part-time pastor. This had come as a surprise to Hamus: “Of all the people I know, you are one of the most logical and rational. I can’t believe you found God.”
Jack wasn’t surprised at the comment – it was one he had heard many times in the last several years. As Hamus reflected on his own life and how he had been feeling in a rut, just doing the same old things, settling into a life that he viewed as helplessly mediocre, Jack couldn’t help but think about how different his life would have been without God in it. Then Hamus said something that struck Jack mid-thought…
“Of all our friends from uni days, you’re probably the most successful…” said Hamus, which wasn’t actually his real name. Back at uni, he had been known by Themistocles, but having worked for several years he had found it easier to just adopt an easier name for everybody to remember (and pronounce). Jack just found it bizarre calling his big Greek friend “Hamus”.
Hamus’ words echoed in Jack’s mind throughout their dinner and well after they had both parted ways. He certainly didn’t feel that he had reached any notable level of success, though, perhaps it was more a statement about how average Hamus felt his other uni friends’ lives were. For Jack though, it made him reflect on what it meant to be successful in God’s eyes.
For the second time in as many weeks, he found himself using his devotional journal:
I wonder what people prayed for throughout history? I bet whatever it was would reflect their desires borne from what society at the time deemed as successful. Society and the world constantly define and redefine success for us – it wasn’t always fame and fortune. Or was it? I don’t know.
But what is success in God’s eyes? Success in God’s eyes is fulfilling His purpose for our lives. Divining what exactly that purpose is should be a life-long journey of extrospection (looking outwards… up, specifically). Where we run into difficulty is when we find out that His will for us isn’t the same as our will for us. And when that difference is allowed to go on unresolved, we are disappointed and unsatisfied.
Why is it that when we hear that God wants the best for us, that we already seem to think we know what ‘the best for us’ is and that God should provide that for us? Our prayers reflect it on a daily basis. Yet even a cursory glance at Scripture would suggest otherwise: “As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.” (1 Peter 4:2 NIV)
It is so hard for most of us to accept that God’s perspective is eternal and that our worldly desires are just a distraction to the main event. I’m just feeling more grateful than usual today that in this world of ever-changing expectations we can worship and serve an ever-unchanging God.
What success metrics do I measure my life against? Those that the world defines? Or those that God defines? I can only do my best and pray that it’s the latter.