Success or Failure?
[Risk No. 165] We were overpaying for some iced drinks when we ran into Crystal (not her real name) outside of Starbucks She and her two friends seemed to be enjoying the summer day on the patio. As we walked out, somehow a conversation got started. The group of people I was with were particularly fired up about all that they had seen Jesus doing in the lives of others that week. It was pretty normal for the conversations to head back around to the fact that we loved God... and it did. As we conversed with these girls, we spoke some basic encouraging words to them in an attempt to share God's love. As we were about to leave I simply asked, "How can I pray for you?" Crystal chimed in with a story about how her thyroid was a problem and how she would love it if God would heal her.
We prayed for her asking God to crush her thyroid condition and then we blessed her with God's love. Usually, when its something physical we might ask her to "test it out"... but in this case there was no way for anyone to know anything about what God was doing in her thyroid. Instead, we told her how God was completely in love with her as His daughter and how he wanted relationship with her. She smiled and thanked us as we left.
About 5 months passed and I had all but forgotten about Crystal. It was in the middle of the blizzard of 2013 when my wife and I were stocking up on supplies to weather the storm. I walked down one of the isles and passed a girl who was so familiar but I simply could not figure out who she was. Minutes later it hit me... "It was Crystal!". I didn't recognize her because she had lost a substantial amount of weight. I immediately remembered her thyroid condition and went to see if I could find her but she was on her way out already.
For about a week I felt slightly bummed that I didn't pursue her into the parking lot to ask whether her condition had gone away. As the week went on I felt the Lord encouraging me just to trust Him and be happy that she looked as though she was doing well.
Yesterday, I was at the same Starbucks from this summer. As I got into my car to leave, guess who pulls in? Crystal!
I rolled my window down and asked her and her boyfriend, "Hey! how are you guys!". She smiled, immediately indicating that she remembered me saying "We are doing great!".
I asked, "How is your thyroid condition?" to which she lit up with a smile and said, "Better!".
Almost in shock, I said "Are you serious? That's amazing!" and she confirmed with "Yes!". I blessed them from the window and went on my way.
In our world, the measure of success is often just that... measurable. When it comes to the work of the Holy spirit there is often far too much at play for us to tangibly "see" all that God is doing. It can prove to be difficult to measure any level of "success" at times because living a life of faith requires believing in truths that we know about the character of God's heart in the face of what we "see" in front of us. This is a tight rope that we walk as we journey through this life. In addition to that, most of the issues that the Holy spirit deals with have no measurement at all. Its one thing to see a broken arm not broken anymore... thats fairly measurable Its another thing to see a broken heart not broken anymore. God is concerned with our wholeness.. and frankly, I'm not sure whether he cares about how we measure anything (though thats a topic of another post perhaps).
Kingdom living puts you in position to trust God. It allows you to say, "God, make the measure for success YOUR LOVE for this person." If we measure kingdom living by results we "see" then we miss out on part of the journey we are called to walk with the Lord. Don't get me wrong... I want to see every sick person healed, every broken bone mended, and every heart turned to Jesus in a celebratory fashion at the grocery store... but the reality is, I don't.
If I measure the success of an encounter based on what I see, I rob God of His glory to do the fullness of what He wants in the heart (or anywhere else) of the person that He loves. I have made it about me and not about Him (this is called idolatry).
If I measure the success of an encounter based on whether I was able to successfully love this person because God loves them, then I am free to trust God and believe that He's good to follow through on His will. I don't even have to theologically convince myself (or anyone else) what "His will" is in that case. I'm just going trust Him and trust the fact that His goodness is good enough to do good works for His kids. When I measure success based on the Love of Jesus and a perfect/consistant Father, I make it about Him and not me (this is called worship).
As for Crystal, we are blown away that God touched her thyroid condition. But, whether we had ever seen her again or not, we were successful in sharing God's love for her. He was proud of us...
Take a risk. Your father is the king of the universe. And then... trust Him to do His will.