Sunday, 13 November 2016


Chatting recently with friends who, like I, are going through a course with the Guernsey School of Supernatural Life, about mentors and friendship.  Then came across Scott Saul's blog about his new book 'Befriend'.

And then I read down, read down to a post about success and what REALLY matters. An extract here:
"As I think about these blessings, I am also struck by Jesus’ admonishment to his disciples precisely when their perceived ‘success’ and ‘influence’ was at its peak:

The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them…“Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven (Luke 10:17-20).

Did you catch that?

When the disciples came to him with news of their strength and influence and success, his response was to say, “Do not rejoice.”

Why? Because, as my colleague and friend, Bob Bradshaw likes to remind us often, ninety-five percent of ‘successful’ people end up failing the test of prosperity because, in many instances, there is an inverse relationship between what the world calls ‘success’ and true success. For we are successful only when we have character that is greater than our gifts and abilities, and humility that is greater than our platforms and influence.

When God prospers us for a time, when he chooses to put the wind at our backs, of course we should enjoy the experience. But we mustn’t hang our hats on it…because earthly success is temporary. If and when it comes, it does so as a gift from God and it is also fleeting. Jesus is telling us not to allow appetizers to replace the feast, or a single apple to replace the orchard, or a road sign to replace the destination to which it points. On this, CS Lewis provides essential wisdom:

It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires (that is, our ambitions) not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased. (The Weight of Glory)

Here, Lewis reminds us that no self-serving ambition has the ability to satisfy the vastness of the human soul made in the image of God. As Augustine aptly said, the Lord has made us for himself. Our hearts will be restless until they find their rest in him....

... the story of every person who has experienced the anticlimax of having getting to the end of the rainbow and finding that there is not a pot of gold there after all, confirms a universal truth for every human heart:

Only Jesus, whose government and whose peace shall never cease to increase (Isaiah 9:7), can sustain us. Only Jesus, whose resurrection assures us that he is, and forever will be, making all things new, can fulfill our deepest desires and give us a happily ever after. Only Jesus can make everything sad come untrue (credit Tolkein with that one). Only Jesus can ensure a future in which every chapter will be better than the one before (credit Lewis). Only Jesus can give to us the glory and the soaring strength of an eagle (Isaiah 40:31). Only Jesus, whose name is above every name, and at whose name every knee will bow, can give us a name that will endure forever (Philippians 2:9-10; Isaiah 56:5).

Making much of his name is, then, is a far superior ambition than being ‘successful’ or trying to make a name for ourselves. For apart from Jesus, all men and women, even the most ambitious and successful and strong, will wither away like a vapor. “People are like grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever” (Psalm 40:7-8).

Lastly, if this isn’t enough to give us a healthier, humbler perspective on self-exalting, self-advancing ambitions, perhaps this observation from Anne Lamott will:

One hundred years from now?
All new people.

I don’t know about you, but for me, that’s an important perspective to keep—whether living in plenty or in want.

Let’s do all things through Christ, who alone strengthens us."

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