Success and Provision – Not the Same

Image source: See NotesI was talking with my wife recently about an opportunity I’m considering. In an attempt to sell her (and myself) on this idea, I made the mistake of suggesting that if God was truly leading me into this venture then I would be successful

She has been advising and supporting me during a direction-seeking chapter of my life that has spanned nearly six years. She also is the person besides myself whose life is most impacted by how my decisions work out.

During this time, I’ve launched into three major opportunities while working in a number of other ventures to help our family make ends meet. None of the major ones panned out but one in particular hung especially heavy with me.

“I still don’t get what God was doing in that one,” I said.

“Are you saying we didn’t learn anything in that experience?” she queried.

“Well, not exactly……” I half-answered.

“Did we have a solid sense of God’s leading in our decision-making about that?”

“Well yes…..” I answered weakly although when I look back on that time now, I wonder if we missed something.

“Did we feel the Lord was blessing us while you were doing that?” she continued.

“Yeah…?” As I paused to recall, several memories came to mind of blessings due to what we were doing then.

“Did he provide for us?”

“Most definitely, and in some truly amazing ways.”

“Do you recall generally feeling God was distant or that he wasn’t speaking into our lives through His Word, prayer, circumstances, teaching, our families and church?”

“No.”  We often talk about this, how we’ve never felt as close to the Lord as during this challenging time in our lives. This was something we definitely were on the same page about.

“So with all that, did we achieve the success we desired?”

O.K. THAT was a rhetorical question. We both knew the answer was no. It also dawned on me about then that she had just set me up. (Wives have a way of doing that.)

So our ideas of success are not the same as the Lord providing, leading, being near, blessing, speaking into our lives.

I’ve been seeking advisement from several people whose insights and wisdom I trust. One of them reminded me that life is a journey not a destination. A nuance of that point is that the Lord often leads directionally but not necessarily ‘destinationally.’

That I sensed the Lord’s leading in this direction does not necessarily mean I’ll land on this particular thing or that if I do, all the logistics are going to work out as planned.  It’s worth noting that some of the strongest expressions of confidence in the Bible for the Lord’s protection and provision were penned by David, a man who was constantly running and hiding from strong enemies determined to kill him.

Lord, how many are my foes!
How many rise up against me!
Many are saying of me,
“God will not deliver him.”
But you, Lord, are a shield around me,
my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
I call out to the Lord,
and he answers me from his holy mountain. (Psalm 3: 1-4, NIV)

More telling are these words by Jesus.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? (Matthew 6:25-26, NIV84)

Would the “success” of birds be sufficient for any of us? You have to answer honestly!

Even though she set me up, I appreciated my wife’s wisdom here. The Lord is leading even as we are still deciding.  Furthermore, he has lead in all the other ventures and all through our lives – through the ups and downs, the successes and failures, and even in our darkest stretches of sinfulness.

Whatever I decide, he will provide; Even if I don’t succeed in my own estimation.

———————————-

Notes:

Carrots Image source: http://www.lolroflmao.com/2012/11/17/success-explained-with-carrots/

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