I arrived home this evening from a short, but powerful men’s retreat. A powerful and dynamic pastor, who recently planted a church in Philadelphia was the guest speaker and I couldn’t be more thankful that I was able to go and that Brad delivered some incredible and much needed insight. Almost immediately, in the first few moments of him beginning his message, Pastor Brad Leach uttered these words…
Wow…if I didn’t get anything else out of the rest of that session (or the two that followed) that would have been enough. Fortunately, there was more, but what an incredibly profound thought, that supersedes any feelings of failure, inadequacy, morbidness or frustration about who we are, what we’ve gone through or any of the thousands of x-factors that cause us to fear our future, thus hindering our faith.
You did not create your life. You cannot define your life. You cannot fill your life with stuff that was never intended to belong there. You cannot judge your life. Contrary to popular belief, whether in the eyes of many, few or one, you and I are not the masters of our domain. We have what we have because it has been given, not because it was attained.
Therefore, success and failure and the lack thereof regarding them does not lie with the doing or not doing or the “shoulda, coulda, woulda” moments, but in the ability of the Creator to utter that final verdict…”Well done, good and faithful servant.” It’s not in the words “great leader”. Brad already understands, it’s not in the words “powerful and dynamic Pastor”. It’s not in the words “wealthy master” or “successful businessman/woman” or “most beautiful woman”. It’s not on any Forbes, or Inc or Entrepreneur Top 10, 100, 50/500/5000 lists. As much as we would all love for our bank accounts to have a few more zeros before the decimal than after it, judgement will not be issued by the size of the dollar sign or in the value of said dollar, thank God.
It was is this spirit, that given the opportunity to share with Brad what was going on my life, Brad succinctly spoke back into mine…now is the time focus on God.
The Lord’s prayer…”on earth, as it is in Heaven.” Earth happens as ordained by God. The universe hinges on Him and His will. Similarly, so does life. Your life. My life.
Brad stated something else, pretty incredible and accurate, while sharing about the story of King Saul’s son, Jonathan and his armor-bearer and the battle against the Philistines. “Perhaps God…” Let’s do this or that, go here or there and “perhaps, God”. So the statement is this:
“Faith is 100% confidence in the character of God…not confidence in the outcome.” Only God has final say on the outcome. Therefore, it is imperative we include Him in the process.
Thus, whilst in the process, how can you fully trust one in whom you don’t know? Character is knowing. Parents convinced about the good behavior of their kids…”well my son/daughter would never…” Convinced of our marriages…”well my spouse would never… Employers…co-workers…friends…family…they would never. The only way anyway makes that statement is because of the time invested. I saw something earlier today that caught my eye…”Time is not spent, it is invested”. Spending money rarely produces something long term that lasts to the point of having ‘something to show for it’. Investments however, require time to be on their side in order to grow in strength and power and ability and most importantly, worth. It’s what they are known for. There is a consistency. There is a track record.
People struggle with “how could a God…” because there is not a knowledge and an intimacy and a trust…an unwavering confidence in the character of God. As a result, we judge by the outcome, which is not ours to judge and then we find ourselves frustrated because we can’t make sense, or cents for that matter, in what is going on and what life is supposed to be and look like.
So, unknowingly, I find myself back at the point and premise of Brad’s first session and his very poignant question. Are you living with the end in mind? Sorry Brad…I really was just using the quote as a launching point for this post…I didn’t think it was coming full circle and speaking to me a second time as I wrote it.
I do write this, though, to pass along the encouragement that I received. Are you focused on what matters? Are who focused on Who matters? What lasts longest is what is well made, with purpose and intent, meaning and great thought. God has made an incredible investment in me. In you. How foolish of us, that we not return the favor by making the investment in spending time with Him. In doing so, my faith, confident in the character of God, is being put into action in a greater dimension. In humanity, my hope is in a man, whom I’m sure will one day become a “heart & soul” friend, in his advice that as I strive to be better in this foundational arena of life, that God will move on my behalf and the rest will “fall into place”
Thanks Brad Leach, of CityLife Church, for your insight and encouragement I greatly enjoyed our conversation and truly feel as though I met a great man and a great friendship that I think God has begun.