How Do We Recognize Success?
By: Rev. Suzie Chamness
1st Corinthians 2:15 reads, "But those who are spiritual discern all things, and they are judged by no one." I interpret that to mean as long as I am a believer in the spirit or am working toward that spirit, then I must be on the right track. It isn't necessary for me to worry about what others may say or how they might judge me. Oh that this was the way of life. God is the ultimate judge but the part of seeing how I am to live from day to day among the people becomes the ultimate opportunity for discerning what God's will is for my life.
And our friend Job in verse 14 of chapter 37 hears these words, "Hearken unto this, Job; stand still and consider the wondrous works of God." If we can all just be still and listen, will we then be able to discern what we should be doing for God. The greater opportunity in hearing what anyone and most especially God, is in listening. The quiet of our mind and soul gives God the chance to show us what we need to know.
In the quietness of our soul will our heart know what we are to be about in God's work here on earth as we train others and ourselves for what is to come? This life can be our training ground for the life that our spirit will have when we complete this earthly journey. I find it difficult to imagine that if I do not learn to help others, be kind to all, love one another as Jesus taught, or be an example of Christ when I call myself Christian, that as I enter that place of peace that I call heaven, can I be immediately transformed into a person unlike the person I was on earth. This is our training ground. This place we call earth and the greater part of discerning what God wants and doing that, teaches us what we can expect to be as we approach closer to the Christ in us each day.
The days are often chaotic for us but a redeeming factor is the words of Isaiah when he said, "the Lord made the heavens; he is God; the maker and designer of the earth." (Chapter 45) It is God's world. It was made for us by God and what we make of it is our own choosing. It is also our gift to God. We can get caught up in the chaos of the world or we can make life more livable and serene. Busyness is all around us and it is very easy to get caught up in it. A secret for being at peace if that is your goal is the time we spend in communion and prayer, meditation and looking inside our self. It is easy to find chaos but challenging to take the time to look for that place of peace.
My view of the world seems to tell me it is in a mess but if I take time to be at peace, it doesn't look so bad. There are day to day to day frustrations we all have. My neighbors get on my last Gay nerve. My congregants are loving but interestingly different. Each of them is on a quest for life too. I am their pastor, friend, sister, companion and somewhere some believe that is equated with spiritual guru or that means I have the answers.
What ever our place in life we are all challenged by our relationships. Each one of them. My spouse receives very little from me and most of it seems to be complaints. My family infrequently receives a phone call and my friends think I call me less and less. The world is a mess and when I don't stop and go to that special place with God, I forget about not only who I am but what needs to be important to me.
The cloud of fear as I often call it takes my focus away from what is relevant to what is good in life. I claim to be a Christian full of love and concern for the world and the people in it. But then I recognize in the mirror a person whose ideals and deeds seem not to join well with the professed description. Most often I am busy being busy with that saying I read on the bumper sticker, "Stay busy, God's watching." God was and is watching. The constraint of thinking that we are sliding by in doing very little of what we as good Christians realize are important to God grows less and less important to our daily work.
It is written in Galatians 3:2, "I just want to learn this from you. Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by hearing of faith?" I know and like most of you have learned through studies or through experience of life that our Spirit for life is received through our faith. I can read and learn but I can only know, feel and believe in my heart when I realize the faith that I have in believing in and of the Spirit of God.
I prefer to have a formula for success and then to have it work through osmosis of my words, actions or lack there of. Sounds like just plain fantasy but don't most of us from day to day believe that because we are good people treating one another well that God must be living in us. Now I am not saying that being "a good person" isn't very important but it is a part of a program for our journey in life.
I am sometimes envious of those who do not think about life beyond today. There must be a formula for life of which I am not aware. Imagine a day without checking in with God. Imagine a day without waking to thank God for waking up, able to move about with maybe an ache or two but able to motivate somehow. I can't imagine not being in conversation with God about the day. The recognition that the trees and grass and that beautiful fluffy sky didn't just happen; God created it just for us - all of us.
I seldom take advantage of the day without recognizing that life is tentative and though I am expecting a much greater life beyond this one; this is the one God has given me today. This day I am to be thankful for what I can learn and discern for the day and for my life. It isn't simple but the days come and go more quickly and I can't seem to get done all that I believe God has for me.
Strange how only a few years ago, it seemed time stood still. Now the night comes so quickly and there is much left undone. I don't frustrate myself as much with success or lack thereof. A wise person reminded me that often the seeds of my work will not come to fruition till much later but if I follow what I can best discern that God would have me do, the realization of success will someday be realized. I may not be in this same place to know but I am assured others will be there to reap the beauty and love intended.
The menacing thoughts of envy, frustration, disappointment and greed still show up in my life now and again but not nearly so often and they don't stay as long as they used to. The energy that I once expended on all those things are more quickly put into perspective and once I thought I could fix all things, I have come to recognize it isn't my job. I grew very frustrated when I played God. It is a tough job and I am not qualified.
I pray a lot it seems for my soul. I get up asking God to forgive my sins for I will surely mess up a lot before the days end. I have learned that God doesn't mind nearly so much as I do about that but what God wants is for me to just ask and I am forgiven. I don't have to forgive me though it does make life less frustrating. God is the love we need and often do not seem to be able to cultivate for ourselves.
I've learned to appreciate the successes and even the failures because from each there is something to be appreciated. Maybe not what you expected would be but if we but look with clear eyes and open hearts we find God. We can find God standing with arms wide open looking down from the cross saying to us "forgive them, for they do not know what they do."
If I stay close to that cross, the forgiveness is recognizable and appreciated. If I stay close to that cross, I am already forgiven. If I begin to carry that cross with me, I don't see the obstacles and challenges that I often see when I don't carry it. When I carry that picture of Jesus on the cross, I know that I am here for a wonderful purpose. I only have to stay close, pray often and believe with all my spirit, being love and my life that God lives in all of us today and every day.
I hope all of us will look closely that cross. We have just lived through the Birth of the Christ Child and I hope we recognize what a journey He made in a very short life. Maybe, just maybe, we can feel just a little closer to our journey of success and less of the frustrations of the day. Be at peace with all things, for life is a gift. Blessings and a hope for recognition of your successes in this chaotic time. "Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths." -Psalm 25:4.
Rev. Suzie Chamness serves as the Interim Pastor of Spirit of Life MCC in New Port Richey, Florida. Contact her by email at revsuzie-at-spiritoflifemcc.org
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