God is so great!
Throughout Scripture, He gives us ways to succeed in life. This may come as a surprise to you, but godly success isn’t the same as worldly success.
It’s a heavenly perspective; a kingdom mindset that looks to Someone much greater. Success, to God, is carrying one’s cross and following after Him, and one of the ways we can do this is by looking ahead instead of behind.
When I flew helicopters in the Army, I was at the height of success. My job was exciting, demanding, and downright awesome.
Externally, I was a boss. But internally… I was unsettled, insecure, and a nervous wreck.
Because I was waiting for the bottom to drop out at any moment. Either I was going to have a breakdown, or I would lose myself completely to the volatile workings of my environment.
And to make matters worse, I saw no way off of the merry-go-round. My job provided the security of a paycheck, the respect of an officer, the comfort of a guaranteed retirement, and the simplicity of following an operating manual.
But I knew I was rotting away, and I knew that this wasn’t real success. I traded God’s way for the world’s way because I was deceived into thinking that all success is good and right.
But what the devil doesn’t mention is that success is only good and right when pursued through God. How do I know this?
Because God’s success is peace-giving, life-giving, and fruit-giving. When we go His way, it brings forth a good measure- pressed down, shaken together, and running over (Luke 6:38).
And at no time did I experience this in all my pursuits for worldly success. In worldly success, I was troubled and stressed no matter what I did.
I tried having a positive attitude, being a team player, and jumping at every opportunity that came my way. I thought that being kind and working harder than everyone else meant things would turn out… but demands kept getting greater and greater, like I was constantly swimming upstream.
So when I came to this understanding of worldly versus godly success, I had to take a leap of faith. I discharged from the military, and placed my future in God’s hands.
Four years later, I am more fruitful and peaceful than ever. But the truth of the matter is, it wasn’t overnight.
Success in God, oftentimes, requires us to leave what is behind for something unseen and unknown ahead of us, no matter how scary. And one of the hardest things to do on this journey of faith is not looking behind at what was comfortable, available, and predictable.
A great example in Scripture is when the Israelites journeyed into the wilderness after God miraculously freed them from oppression. It didn’t take long before they reasoned that going back to oppression was better than being in the wilderness.
Back there, they had jobs and homes. Back there, they had food and familiarity.
Every day was the same, without much change. And every day the work was laid out, where they didn’t need to be creative or resourceful in order to do it.
Missing the Familiar
Sometimes, I look back and miss the familiarity of my past life. I could walk in, do the job, get paid, and feel like I had accomplished something in my day.
Now, as a full-time mom with a long to-do list, it’s rare that I have any sense of accomplishment at all. Especially when the laundry is piled high, the kids are screaming at me, and I haven’t been able to sit down and relax for more than 2 minutes at a time.
Most days, I can’t remember what I’ve eaten, or why I’ve walked into a particular room. Not because I’ve piled on unnecessary activities, but because it’s a job that requires a lot more give than take.
Forgetting the Past
So yes, I confess I look back with a tinge of sadness at what was easy, immediate, and safe. But God called me to a new life, one with real purpose and unshakeable value.
And one of the conditions of this new life is that I can’t look back. Because when I look back, I am tempted to do things my way and the world’s way.
As Paul states in Philippians 13:3-4, Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
And as Jesus declared in Luke 9:62, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” We, my friends, can’t look back to dwell in sadness and regret at what was left behind.
Instead, we turn to God every time we are overwhelmed with the temptation to call it quits. We diligently seek refuge in Him when we can’t envision lasting much longer in the wilderness we are wandering in.
And we say, “God, I trust that you will be able to provide all of my needs this month. I trust that you will take care of my children and my marriage. I believe that Your provision will see me through to harvest time.”
Going After Godly Success
So, dear friends, please don’t look back at the life God called you away from. Whether it be a job, relationship, or a missed opportunity, don’t be tempted to linger in what could have been.
Keep stepping forward in faith and praise, believing that He will deliver you to a much better place. Keep seeking Him with all your heart, and He will bring a harvest more abundant than you ever expected.
For me, I have yet to experience the harvest of godly success because He is still working, strengthening, and maturing me. But I fully believe that it will happen because of all those that have gone before me.
So in the meantime, I will remember what God has provided for me along the way. Because He has answered a multitude of prayers for provision and guidance, of which I’ve recorded in my prayer journal, to remind me of His faithfulness.
Therefore, friends, if you are challenged in looking ahead instead behind, I urge you to seek God’s help. Because He will give you the perspective, encouragement, provision, and vision you need to keep going toward godly success!
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