On recognizing success when we see it

Amos 7:14 Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah: ‘I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son; but I was a herdsman, and a dresser of sycamore-trees; and the LORD took me from following the flock, and the LORD said unto me: Go, prophesy unto My people Israel. {JPS}

Amos was a man who was comfortable and successful at being who and what he was, an owner of sycamore groves and a sheep farmer. His daily life was settled and predictable; he was good at doing what he had chosen to do with his life and was content with going about the daily routine of being Amos. Then the Lord invaded his life with opportunities and a ministry that was light years outside his comfort zone.

A resident of Judah, Amos was told to go the Israel and prophesy there. Not only was he to prophesy, but he was to deliver a message which would be unpopular, harsh, and judgmental. The King of Israel would regard Amos as an interloper and an enemy.

I have often pondered how these men and women of G-d felt about being given these “opportunities.” Were they always seen as opportunities, I wonder? Were they perceived as gifts from G-d, or were there mixed feelings about being called to something so far outside their normal realms of experiences?

Stretching our personal borders is often a difficult process for us humans. I wonder how Amos felt as he trod the road to Bethel from Tekoa. Was he nervous? Excited? Scared? Was he filled with questions and doubt? Did he question whether he had really heard from G-d or whether his own imagination had tricked him? What awaited him in Israel? How would he deliver his message? What would he say? How would he say it? To whom would he say it, and what would be their responses? Would he be killed, laughed out of town, ridiculed, or worse – ignored?

Yet Amos did exactly what the Lord had set before him to do. We are not told of his emotions, his outlook, his fears or confidences. We are only told that he went. He was obedient to the still, small voice within him. The result was that the message was delivered – not just to Bethel and Amaziah, but to us as well. Truth for all time was spoken, and the people of G-d received the Word of the Lord. Success! Regardless of how things might have turned out – success! Even if he had been killed, ridiculed, laughed out of town or ignored – there would still have been success! Why? Because the success would have been the obedience and the task accomplished. If he were obedient, success was impossible to avoid. Other people’s responses, even his own safety or humiliation were irrelevant to the outcome. He had already succeeded!

When we evaluate success, we entertain the notion that seeing the results we anticipated or realizing the goals we had intended to achieve is the measuring standard. In truth, it is not. Success is determined by submission to our Master and obedience to His word. When Yeshua went to the cross, everything attested to the illusion that his ministry had not succeeded. Yet, in his obedience, he did succeed, and G-d made the intended result happen. Disciples, when we are submissive to our G-d and obedient to his direction, we are already achievers.

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