“How do I gauge success?
Why do I say I’m blessed?
Is it the car that I drive
Or the place that I rest
Or the way that I dress?
Is the cause of my pride
The stage and the set
Or my face in the press?”
What do we see as personal success? Is it when people compliment us? What makes us praise God for his goodness? Do we enjoy him more when he gives us a new car or a new job? Do we praise Him when he heals us or a family member? Do we only count ourselves blessed when things are going our way, when we get what we want? What brings about joy in us? What does our prayer life reveal to us about where our happiness lies? Do we more frequently ask God for material or physical blessings rather than Himself? Is it possible that what we define as God blessing us is actually not a blessing at all?
I was reading Acts 3 this morning and came across this verse:
“God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.” -Acts 3:24
How does God bless us according to this verse? By turning every one of us from our wickedness. Turning from wickedness is the blessing because wickedness keeps us from God. Blessing is not abundance or fame or possessions. If anything those are curses because they take our eyes off of the source of true happiness. God’s blessing is that when we are turned from sin, often by tragedy or difficulty or loss, we get God! “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). Acts 3:24 sent my mind on a roller coaster of questions:
What if God’s blessing was to remain in a tougher situation because it would turn us to Him? What if my greatest wickedness was thinking that God was only good because He made my life comfortable? What if my wickedness was the way my heart only rejoiced when God guided me where I wanted to go? What if, instead, my faith looked like Habakkuk 3:17-19:
“Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer’s;
he makes me tread on my high places.”
What if my heart rejoiced even though I didn’t know where my next meal was coming from? What if my heart rejoiced in the midst of losing my job? What if, like Paul, no earthly event or possession controlled my happiness?
“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance, and need.”
What will I do when all my earthly supports fade away? Will I rejoice? Will I be glad that God chose to make more of Himself in my life by ridding me of life’s distractions? Let us pray that God only give us what we need to hold on and keep our eyes on Him:
“Two things I ask of you;
deny them not to me before I die:
…give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that is needful for me,
lest I be full and deny you
and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’
or lest I be poor and steal
and profane the name of my God.”