We live in a world that celebrates success. However, the way that our society defines success is very different than the way that God sees it.
From a biblical perspective, success comes when we surrender our plans to the Lord, and He promises to see them through to completion, when they are done His way.
Note that I said completion, and not “all will go well.” My life experiences have taught me that sometimes things go well, and sometimes they don’t, for reasons I don’t always understand. What the Bible does say is that God will make your plans succeed (some translations use “established” instead).
We use the word “success” a lot, but sometimes don’t realize what we are actually saying. You don’t even have to go to the Bible to realize that we often misappropriate the definition of this word. Don’t believe me? Take a moment and look up the first definition of “success” in the dictionary.
According to the dictionary, success implies that something happens in sequence, or is completed. Secondary or tertiary definitions of the word indicate favorable circumstances or outcomes, which is how we often use “success”.
This is striking to me. So often, I have read this verse and thought that if I make my plans and hand them over to the Lord, then He will make everything work out well; what I understand now is that He may indeed do this, or He may not. But what He promises to do 100% of the time, though, is to see my plans through to completion.
When I view my circumstances through this lens, I find that I’m able to relax a bit. Future disappointment should not be as sharp, because I can still extract an important lesson from the situation, and thank God that He did in fact see my plans through to completion. In the event that He chooses to prosper my plans and things go well, then I can praise Him for the blessing. Either way, there is something for which I can give God thanks.
This is real commitment. Real commitment focuses not on the outcome, but on the process. For me, the process is surrendering my hopes, dreams, and plans to the Lord, and trusting that He will ensure that I am successful. Sometimes, success simply means completion, and then the Lord directs our steps to another plan or purpose.
So I invite us to reframe our perspective, and see our plans, hopes, and dreams in terms of completion. Receive the lesson that the Lord has for us, and keep going and growing! Thank Him for helping us mature, and rest in the knowledge that He will not withhold any good thing from those who walk uprightly (Psalm 84:11).
Dear Lord, I thank You for helping me to better understand Your definition of success. Help me to interpret the circumstances of my life in terms of completion, rather than setting my heart on a specific outcome.
It’s absolutely fine for us to pray and be hopeful – in fact, You want us to do this! – but remind us to maintain a biblical perspective of success, rather than the definition that our world celebrates. Thank You for loving me, and for the unchanging truth that nothing or no one can ever separate me from Your tender embrace. In Your name I pray, Amen.