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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Our Success or God's Success

The title in this post is ambiguous, I know. It is meant to be. The title also presupposes that we can understand what God views as success using our own human terms. Yes, all of this is confusing.

Let me explain where I am going with this.

I have been reading the book of Jeremiah from some time. In it we find how God calls Jeremiah to Judah here was the two tribes that had split from the ten tribes of Israel. God chose Jeremiah to be his prophet even before he was born (Jeremiah 1:5). His job was to prophecy (preach) to Judah for more than 40 years that unless they repent, judgment would come to them. This judgment would be in the form of being conquered by the Babylonian Empire and be taken captives for 70 years (Jeremiah 29:10-11, notice verse 11 was given to Judah). The interesting thing is that God tells Jeremiah what the the result will be: Judah wouldn't listen, they would mistreat him, almost kill him and continue in their path to receiving the judgment of God (See #29 here to read more about Jeremiah's life events). He gives Jeremiah a promise: "They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, declares the LORD, to deliver you.” (Jeremiah 1:19)
preach to his people, Judah.

From a human perspective this seems unnecessary. Why would God call Jeremiah as his prophet if He knew that no matter what he said it wouldn't change a thing in Judah's heart? Why all the preaching, crying (A whole short book records this: Lamentations.) and suffering for Jeremiah knowing well what the result would be? In our own eyes, Jeremiah was a failure. He didn't produce positive results. He didn't win any converts. He was too melancholic. If Jeremiah would have applied for a job in today's world, he wouldn't get one. Yes, I know it sounds ridiculous but the more I read The Bible I see that what we call success is not necessarily what God sees as success. Put in it in other words, God's plans and ways don't conform to our own standards. They never will.

But Jeremiah was obedient. He preached. For a long time (But he doesn't hold the record. Noah holds this, 100 years or close to that. See Genesis 5:32 and 7:11. Interestingly enough Noah wasn't too successful in human terms. His warnings about the coming flood were rejected. He was only able to rescue his own family). He was faithful to God. Now that is what matters in God's eyes. This is exactly what should matter to us: to be faithful to God in our calling as His children. To be obedient to Him. We may not measure up to what our culture calls "successful," but in the end this doesn't really matter.

I often think about my life as I have passed my 40th year (now 42) that I haven't done much for God. But as I read Jeremiah I realize that what I think I must do for God is not the same as what God wants for me. What I should strive for is to be obedient to Him. To know Him. To follow Him.

In the prayer to St. Richard of Chichester we should say:

"O holy Jesus,

most merciful Redeemer,

Friend, and Brother:

may we know thee more clearly,

love thee more dearly,

and follow thee more nearly,

day by day."

Lord, align my thoughts with your thoughts

My ways with your ways

That I may please you in everything I do

And from you never stray.

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