Success

“But that is the time to be careful! Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the Lord your God and disobey his commandments, regulations and decrees I am giving you today.” Deuteronomy 8:11

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Butterflies are some of the most beautiful creatures God has created. Each has their own unique pattern, and though they are very small, they still seem to catch our eye because of the delicate beauty and wonder they evoke. To get to that beautiful shape, they had to go through quite a bit of heartache and inglorious circumstances. They had to crawl on the ground with the lowest of creatures. They had to eat and eat and eat until they were fat and wrap themselves up in a cocoon. Finally, after sleeping their life away for what I’m sure seems like forever, they get to emerge as one of the most beautiful creatures in the forest.

In their beauty, I’m sure it’s easy to think they have finally arrived, and forget all of that hard work and the hand of God throughout their growth and transformation. In the same way, the passage in Deuteronomy warns the Israelites against basking in their own success after God finally brings them into the Promised Land. But here in chapter 8, he reminds them that their success is not their own,

“He did all this so that you would never say to yourself, ‘I have achieved this wealth with my own strength and energy.’ Remember the Lord your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful, in order to fulfill the covenant he confirmed to your ancestors with an oath.” Deuteronomy 8:17-18

I was convicted by this passage this week because in my heart I know I have a tendency to be like the Israelites. I forget that God’s grace, favor, and blessing have brought me to where I am today. This life is not something I have earned or I deserve, it is a gift.

My husband, Drew, and I have finally completed our first year in Zambia, and it is truly feeling like home. We went through a very difficult season to be where we are today, and we finally feel settled. But it’s easy for us to think, “Ah, finally, we deserve this rest, we finally feel at home.” And as we sit in the comfort of our new situation, we can forget where we have come from and the God that carried us through some of the most difficult of times. I can forget to be thankful, I can forget to acknowledge that He is the one who is faithful, but I must know that my own strength is nothing compared to His love and compassion that alone can sustain me through all of life’s storms. All that He has done for me is to be a part of His greater purpose, not to bask in my own beauty as if I have had any real part in my transformation.

“Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.” Hebrews 1:14-15

Jesus’ humility is amazing. He could have basked in His own glory as God, and let us continue to ruin each other and ourselves with sin and death. But Jesus gave up all that He was to be one of us. He lived among us, and then died so that we could have life. I know these concepts so well; it is easy to take them for granted. It is easy to think this life that God has called me to live is my own, but He has better plans for us than that.

This week, join me in thanking and acknowledging God for the amazing things He has brought us through. Let’s acknowledge Him, as the one who sustains us and moves throughout circumstances to make something beautiful. It’s easy to be content when God has brought us to a place of rest, but that can be the most dangerous place to be, because it is so easy to forget. Let us resist that temptation. May we instead go throughout this week basking in the beauty of God, remembering His hand in every good thing, and submitting to Him continually no matter the circumstances.