Thursday, March 5, 2015

My Success

                I wear many hats. I always have. When my children were little, I was a stay at home mom, served in our church in multiple ministries, and took care of my mother who was dying of cancer. As my children grew into their late teen years, and our finances needed a boost, I went back to a full time job, as well as taking on the Director of Children’s ministry at our church. Then one day the Lord told me to leave my full time job, take a leap of faith and trust Him. So once again my life took on a different path and I found myself taking off one hat and putting on another one. This next hat, however, brings me more joy than I ever thought possible. This next hat would be the opportunity for me to own and operate my own company, yet still give me time to write and be a writer. This next hat I would put on would be to own and operate a Pet Care Company.

Our Business Name/Logo
https://www.facebook.com/PeppyPetsDC
                Pet care didn’t start out as something I thought would turn into a company. It was just a way to earn some extra cash for us, and to be honest, I needed something else to do other than just what I was doing. I am a multi-tasking lunatic, I know. One of my friends told me that if there was not chaos in my life then my life was not normal. She was right, but for me chaos works- I seem to thrive on it. Anyway, taking care of dogs and cats and other creatures of God’s glorious creation was not something that was supposed to be this successful, it was just supposed to be a few dogs, cats and maybe a hermit crab, here and there to bring in some extra income. Now, four years later, after bringing in a partner (my daughter-in-law) we are meeting with the Small Business Association and are headed into the biggest venture of our lives. We are expanding. We have to expand. We have become too big for our britches. We have outgrown our capacity and our resources, and we just keep getting more and more clients. We are not complaining, not one bit. But we also know that all of this success is not because of anything that we have done, but it is all because of what the Lord is doing.
                “Hear O Israel; you are to cross over the Jordan today, to go in to dispossess nations greater and mightier than yourselves, cities great and fortified up to heaven, a people great and tall, the sons of the Anakim, whom you know, and of whom you have heard it said, ‘Who can stand before the sons of Anak?’ Know therefore today that He who goes before you as a consuming fire is the Lord your God. He will destroy them and subdue them before you. So you shall drive them out and make them perish quickly, as the Lord has promised you.” Deuteronomy 9:1-3 (ESV)
                Moses is speaking to the people of Israel encouraging them that they are going to defeat the nations before them that no one said could be defeated. They are going to go in and conquer the land that is before them. They are going to have success and the Lord their God is going to go before them to make sure that they do. As I read these words this morning, I was reminded of my thoughts just a few months ago. I was actually considering giving up the business all together and just going out and finding a part time job. It wasn't that we weren't successful, or that we weren't growing, I just wasn't sure that I could continue because the next step was a little scary. Taking on a facility, unfitting it, getting all the zoning and permits done and so forth is a big venture and will take a lot of planning, patience and trust. Not to mention money.  I was a little afraid that it was too big for us and that we would not be able to conquer the obstacles to come. But then I was reminded that it wasn't me who would have to conquer, it was God who would go before us and He would be the one to do the conquering.
                “Do not say in your heart, after the Lord your God has thrust them out before you, ‘It is because of my righteousness that the Lord has brought me in to possess this land,’ whereas it is because of the wickedness of these nations that they Lord is driving them out before you.” Deuteronomy 9:4 (ESV)
                 I want to be successful in all that I do, we all do. We want to be successful in our careers. We want to be successful mothers, fathers, servants of the Lord, etc. We want our churches to be successful. We want our lives to be successful. Success is defined as a favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors (Dictionary.com). It can be measured by the attainment of wealth, positions, titles, honors, awards, etc. No matter what we desire to be successful in, the point is that we all desire it. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be successful in this life. But we must remember that our success does not come from within us, it comes from the God who gives it to us. Our success is not our success, it is His. It is His grace and His favor working in us and through us to make us successful.
                The first mention of success that I found in the bible is Genesis 24:14. Abraham has just sent his man servant to the house of Laban, his brother in law to secure a wife for his son Isaac. The
servant arrives to the region, bows down and prays to the Lord for success in his endeavors. “Then he said, ‘O Lord God of my master Abraham, please give me success this day, and show kindness to my master Abraham.’” The servant knew that any success that he was to have would have to come from the Lord. He had grown up in Abraham’s house and had seen Abraham succeed. This servant learned that Abraham’s success had been because the Lord was with him. It was not because Abraham was some great and mighty man who had great knowledge and power. It was because Abraham loved the Lord with all his heart, his soul, his mind and his strength, and he was not lifted in pride thinking that his goodness earned him anything. Our success in this life does not come from our goodness, and is not a reward for our good behavior. We don’t get a raise because we did not sin last week. God does not reward our good behavior like we reward our dogs for coming when they are called. God doesn’t work that way. Our success is a testimony to the goodness, the grace, the mercy and the love of God our Father for the people He has created. It is not because of you, it is not about you, it is Him and only Him who is alone successful.
                “The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples.” Deuteronomy 7:7 (NKJV)
Photo taken from: freedeskwallpapers.com
                You have success in your jobs, your life, and your family because the Lord is good, not because you are. There is nothing good in you that deserve any sort of accolade, or award, or praise. Let’s face it; I am only able to care for these animals that God has put in my care because He has put them in my care. It is not because of my great marketing skills, or my expansive knowledge of animals, because I have neither of those talents. My daughter in law and I are successful because we serve a God who is good, and full of grace, and loves us more than we could ever love Him. The danger of pride can very easily slip into our hearts when the Lord brings success into our lives. Let us not be lifted up in our hearts and think that any success we have is because of our own goodness, let us remind ourselves daily that our success is because of His goodness.
                Moses warned the children of Israel not to be lifted up in pride when the Lord gave them great success and blessed them with this new land. He warned them not to take their eyes off of Jesus, but to keep them firmly fixed on Him and His grace. “then you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gained my this wealth.’ And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your father, as it is this day.” (Deuteronomy 8:17-18 NKJV) He is the one who has given you the strength, the power, the ability and the knowledge to do all that you do. He alone is the one who gives you that raise you think you deserve, that job you feel you are entitled to. He alone is the only one who has the right to be entitled to any praise, or glory, or success because He alone is success. Without Him we can do nothing. (John 15:5)

                Whatever it is that you are finding success in, take time today to praise Him and Him alone for it. You have done nothing, He has done it all.  All that we do, all that we set our minds and our hearts to accomplish are successful because we have a loving God who is full of mercy and grace. My success at this endeavor will only come if He wills it, if He is in it and if He goes before it. Without Him I can do nothing, and without Him I am nothing. I don’t deserve success, and I don’t deserve Him. But whatever success He gives may it be a testimony to His goodness and His grace, and may all people know that it is all because of Him and Him alone, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen and Amen.