My life is for God’s glory. Whether I fail or not, it’s for God’s glory. Whether I choose to show the courage and stupidity to stand before things that look like giants or even if I man up and actually stand before more powerful beings, the outcome is not my own. The battles that matter to me, to others and to God are His to fight. I’m a bumbling idiot who would choose things that would kill me and waste my time and focus but God whispers peace to me and reminds me of what David said; the battle is the Lord’s (I Samuel 17:46-47). God is longsuffering, He is glorious and majestic and it only seems like failure to me because I don’t have the lifespan, experience and vision to see His plan.
Here’s a modern example. In today’s economy many jobs are “what have you done lately” types and mine’s no exception. There are “resizings” and “right-sizings” (corporate terms, you can guess their meanings). If I have more than about 15 minutes as a break I literally begin feeling paranoid that I’m not doing something that’ll come back to bite me or my team in the behind and maybe lead to one of the former terms. I’m highly motivated to succeed and be perceived as successful by those for whom I work, my peers and those who depend upon me. All that being said, whether I fail or succeed is in God’s hands. I do a good job with good focus and try to find ways to do it better. I do my job “as unto the Lord.” I have a good attitude and if I realize I have a poor one I’ll remember that God placed me here and He expects me to respond positively to my environment. I’ll remember that He gives me health and a career so that I can care for my family and so that I can acknowledge His gifts by giving to others. Someday I’ll fall over dead or I’ll be downsized or any of a number of things will happen to cause me to not be connected to some people in the same way I am now. It may appear like a colossal failure but it’s just God putting me somewhere else that He wants me.
The beautiful part of this is that I’m not a pawn to God. I’m His child. I’m His work. I am an ambassador for Christ. I’m one of the Redeemed and a saint; a co-heir to all of creation by the blood of Jesus Christ and no matter where God chooses to use me I know that He has been there before me, He will stay with me during my time there and He’ll stick around after so that He can care for those I’ll leave behind. God is magnificent and my view of success or failure is primarily an artifact of how I am not God.
I want to point out that being humble before God doesn’t mean no smack talk. Look back at the First Samuel passage (I Sam 17:34-37), David talked smack about killing a lion and bear as a young boy. He speaks confidently about killing Goliath. He talked smack about a physical giant of a man and he was only a young boy, not allowed in the army yet. That’d be something like me talking smack about beating Michael Phelps at swimming, Dwayne Wade at basketball or The Rock at whatever it is that he does. The difference is that the smack talk is based on knowing the stupidity and futility of what I’m about to do and knowing that however He chooses to do it God will use it for His glory no matter what. I don’t have to know the answer, I only have to know what my place is. My job isn’t to win the fight, it’s to wade in there and watch how God wins it. Hey, maybe I’m the first in a line of folks that are gonna get crumpled up to teach a faithless nation to turn back to God (read the book of Judges for examples). Maybe God won’t choose to save me (check out Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego’s response to Nebuchadnezzar – Daniel 3:16-18). The thing I’m satisfied knowing is that either with me or someone later God will bring glory to Himself and if I’m a cautionary tale then I’ll be with God enjoying Him as He enjoys the childlike faith I exhibited when I stood up in front of my “Goliath.”