I often marvel at the achievements of different people in shaping the ideas of communities, nations and worlds. To look at the life stories of modern and ancient heroes, it is tempting to set them apart from the rest of us, thinking that there was something in their gene structure or support that allowed them to achieve at such a marked level. Such insinuation is often merely a way of excusing our own relative insignificance, and perhaps justifying our present inaction.
When you get behind the life stories of a Martin Luther King, or an Augustine, a Mahatma Gandhi, or even a Mother Theresa, you find a very ordinary human being, struggling with the same challenges you and I face. There was no favoured ‘yellow-brick-road’ which allowed them an easy road to success. On the contrary, there were many obstacles which prompted much reconsideration of the cost of their journey, some coming from others, others internal. There were ample opportunities to withdraw from the path they found themselves upon.
Indeed, in many cases the path was not one they planned to walk. Instead they found themselves in a way of traveling, a way from which they felt they could not turn back. They were never contemplating seeking greatness, but merely being faithful in the present moment.
For many different reasons we might lament the circumstances in which we may find ourselves. The temptations may be strong to rail against them, to walk away from them, or to use them as an excuse for our lack of ‘success’. Yet the lesson to learn from the gospels, as from the lives of these great people is that success is never a primary concern: only faithfulness. Sticking to the path on which God has placed us, and searching to be faithful to His calling.
There are many things which are within our power as we move forward in ministry: we can pray. We can respond to the challenges we face. We can love the people God brings into our circle of influence.
The Easter story is one of the faithfulness of Jesus to his Heavenly Father’s calling. Faithfulness which took him all the way to Calvary. The rest was beyond Jesus’ control, and in the Father’s hands. It is the same with us.
March 31, 2002