Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ugly Truth #573

Okay so let me let you in on a little secret. In this world so festooned with platitudes and clichés about the glories of success, the irony is few people really want you to succeed. Your success is either dangerous to those who are “in charge” or an indictment against those who refuse to reach for success.

I know this sounds harsh and I am probably going to get few vehement denials of this, but I speak from experience. When Nathan and I first started talking about Pagus everyone told us what a great idea it was, and it remained a great idea up until we actually started making progress. At that point, the people who were willing to lament our inability to strike out and do what we believed we were called to do became filled with a new type of woe. We got to hear cautionary tales and were warned about the dangers of pursuing a dream with too much passion.

The truth is, there is no logical reason for us to experience any amount of success in this venture. Nathan and I really are nobodies. We grew up on a farm outside a little town in the middle of nowhere. We aren’t particularly good looking or all that brilliant. We don’t have any extraordinary skills or talents, we just learned how to make the most of what we have.

And therein lies the rub.

What happens when you take a single mom who has little or no income, and see that she managed to find a way to live her dream? You realize there is absolutely no excuse for failure. None. Nada. Zip.

If you truly know me, you know that there were no easy breaks. I had some amazing opportunities that did seem to fall in my lap, but the truth is I was working my tail off to be ready for some of them. The rest I created out of sheer will and lots of prayer. Guess what? We all have access to these tools.

Some might say, well you had a network of friends and family to help you to succeed. Here’s the secret to that – I actively sought out and cultivated these relationships. Not out of any type of manipulation but because I knew that we needed each other. We all need people who value the same things we do in our lives, and I hope I have been a blessing to them as well.

But there is this moment when it comes down to you. When you are the one who has to be willing to step out, even in the face of discouragement, and try. It is a moment that separates you from everyone else, including those people who love you and desire good things for you. And in that moment you can feel the separation, nothing may change on the outside but there is a shift, often small but painful, in the relationship. So the question becomes, what are you willing to do to achieve your goal?

I think that for Jesus this moment occurred in Gethsemane. It was all him from this point on. Sure the others had traveled the dusty roads with him, weathered the storms at sea, withstood the attacks of those who denied who he was, but this was the defining moment. Would he stay with them, fulfill their expectations and continue lamenting the fact that God had not delivered Israel, or would he do what was necessary?

Thankfully, he knew that success was dependent on him risking great things to fulfill his purpose. He knew that he had to step away from the comfortable friendships and support, and he had to be willing to disappoint (even if just momentarily) those who had claimed to believe in his vision. If he had listened to them, been who they wanted him to be, salvation would have never been ours.

I think this is what he means when he said he came to bring a sword, one that divides families and friends. It is painful, but necessary. It means we become dangerous to those who demand that we fulfill the roles we are expected to play. It serves as an example of what God would desire of us all, the courage and faith to step into a destiny that he has prepared for us. It strips away all the excuses for the spectators not to follow the example placed before them.

I challenge you to be a success. God challenges each of us to be a success. He desires that we know the beauty and danger of following the path he has set before us. He wants to share that moment when it all comes down to just the two of you. For it is in that moment you declare to the world, he is your reason for being.

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