Something recently occurred to me. As a Christian, I am not called to success. I’m called to obedience.
One I can’t control. The other, I am entirely responsible for.
I heard a sermon recently that reminded me of the story of Hosea. God called His prophet to a rocky path. To be more explicit, He called Hosea to a marriage filled with heartbreak and strife. I wonder how Hosea felt when God told him to marry a prostitute named Gomer. I can only imagine the sting of heartbreak he experienced when his wife went back to her old ways.
Everybody would have known about Hosea’s shame. I’m sure lots of gossipy people spent countless hours gleefully discussing what went wrong. People love to solve other people’s problems while ignoring their own.
Step into Hosea’s mind for a moment. How could he reconcile what he hoped for with with what he actually had? I think the only thing that empowered Hosea to move forward was a clear sense of calling. He didn’t marry Gomer because he felt like it. He did it because God told Him to. Within his calling, Hosea experienced a great sense of inevitability. “God says she is my wife, so not matter what, she is my wife. Nothing will stop me from that pursuit.”
People tell my wife and I on a regular basis that the odds are stacked against us in Portland, Oregon. They are right! Our circumstances say that our field is too hard and our dreams are too big. I realized today that none of that matters. All I need to know is that God wants us here. He never guaranteed success. If God wants us here to fail spectacularly for His glory – fine. Not preferable, but fine. Not fun, but fine. It’s our job to obey God with all of our time, talent, and ability. The rest is up to Him.
I’m not a pessimist. I don’t expect to pack up anytime soon (or ever) to head home. Embracing obedience over success places God back at the center of everything. Instead of forming strategies I hope He will bless, I press into Him to hear His voice. When we do the hard work of listening, following Him becomes simple.
This doesn’t remove the difficulty from the journey - it just puts it in the right place. I still want to have sleepless nights and difficult moments. They are a huge part of this. However, I want my burdens to more clearly reflect God’s. I don’t want to stress out about attendance numbers. I don’t think God has ever wrung His hands on a Saturday night, worrying about how many would show up the next morning. If He doesn’t feel this, I don’t want to. I want to experience a broken heart for for the lost, disgust toward sin and its effects, a growing intolerance for injustice, and a desperation to see His kingdom come.
That’s the last thing I am learning. I can have lots of earthly success, and make a relatively small kingdom impact. However, every time I prioritize obedience over everything, His Kingdom has ALREADY come. I’m not defined by my success or failure. I’m defined by Jesus. When I am His, I am enough.
follow our church planting journey at pastoraaronbennett.com