Who doesn’t appreciate a story about survival and/or success? We hear all kinds of reports on television and by word of mouth of people overcoming the odds to find health again or reach a positive outcome of some sort. We read about them in books and magazines, and of course, on the worldwide web. We watch the contestant on the Biggest Loser, who must alter and abide by a strict diet and put in hours upon hours of strenuous exercise to undo the weight gain that brought them there in the first place, and gasp in astonishment at their progress when they arrive for the “Big Reveal” at the show’s finale. We hear of the mother or teacher or friend who is diagnosed with breast cancer and is given a second or, amazingly enough, even a third chance at life after having to endure grueling cancer treatment and frequently, even a traumatic mastectomy. The story of an individual who is pronounced dead after suffering cardiac arrest miraculously lives to be a breathing testimony of God’s protection and provision. Surfer Bethany Hamilton, who lost her left arm during a shark attack at the young age of thirteen, returned to the ocean to press toward her dream of becoming a professional surfer just a month after the horrific attack. There are countless stories.
These stories of success and survival are definitely worth sharing because they are so amazing and truly inspiring. Plenty can be learned from experiences such as these: faith and hope would be at the top of the list. But watching and reading about another’s success can only get you so far. You have to do the work and become your own success story.
I received a special book from a very thoughtful friend a couple of Christmases ago. It is a yearly devotional compiled by Max Lucado with an assortment of excerpts from many of his books. Within its pages, I found “Secondhand Spirituality” to be a very powerful message:
“Come near to God, and God will come near to you.” James 4:8
Some of us have tried to have a daily quiet time and have not been successful. Others of us have a hard time concentrating. And all of us are busy. So rather than spend time with God, listening for His voice, we’ll let others spend time with Him and then benefit from their experience. Let them tell us what God is saying. After all, isn’t that why we pay preachers?…
If that is your approach, if your spiritual experiences are second hand and not firsthand, I’d like to challenge you with this thought: Do you do that with other parts of your life?…
You don’t do that with vacations… You don’t do that with romance… You don’t let someone eat on your behalf, do you? [There are] certain things no one can do for you.
And one of those is spending time with God.
Just like Jesus
So, friend, how do you plan to be your own success story and get first dibs on the goodness of God?