“How would you advise me to get to where you are?”
I can safely say: I’ve never been asked this before. Ever. I mean EVER. Perhaps for good reason, but I’ve never been asked this question before. Then this conversation with this young man happened and I found myself trying to answer a question I’d never thought about.
I stumbled and stammered over my words for a few minutes while I prayed that deeply spiritual prayer in my mind, “GOD HELP!! NOW WOULD BE A GOOD TIME FOR SOME PLENARY INSPIRATION!!!!!”
It didn’t come but I think—I hope—I managed to point this young man towards His Creator and His Son, our Savior, so he could discover why the Lord had given him a second chance at life.
The question was a fair one (and one I’m prepared for next time!) and certainly not one Scripture is silent about. The world is shopping for “success.” And like someone heading to the grocery store without a list and on an empty stomach, we’re not even sure what we’re looking for and often end up simply eating “junk” because it satisfies that need to feel “successful”.
And then we read passages like Proverbs 2:7-8:
He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.
We can turn to the Proverbs for great counsel for a great many things. One key to understanding the Proverbs, however, is to make sure we’re using words the same way. We can read this Proverb and think “success” is monetary or positional. But we’d be wrong.
In Hebrew (the original language of most of the Old Testament), “success” is not synonymous with “make you wealthy, highly respected, or well known”. Instead, the concept is more like possession of a particular type of wisdom that grants you soundness or efficiency.
Think of it this way: the Hebrew idea of “success” is one of competence to live life well.
So in context, the author of Proverbs tells us the location of this type of competence to live life well: the Lord. It is the Lord who stores up success for us. It is the Lord who “is a shield to those whose walk is blameless.” It is the Lord Who “guards the course of the just and protects the way of the faithful ones.”
When our wisdom leads us to the competence to live this life well, we stop shopping for success in those things that are temporary. We focus on the eternal. After all, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10).
We’re not going to find our Savior’s definition of success until we find Him in submission and humility. For it is in that place where we can realize the embrace of Jesus as He described it in John 10:27–30.
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
What do I have worthy of emulating? Living in the embrace of a Savior that knows me better than I know myself and yet loves me anyway.
Dearly beloved of the Lord, stop shopping for success where this world tells you and start buying droves of stock in the limitless supply of the Lord’s gift at competence to live life well.