“God has not called me to be successful, He has called me to be faithful.” – Mother Teresa
How do you measure success in a pandemic? How can you even tell if you are carrying out your mission? Completing your work well? Completing your work at all?
Somedays over the last five months have felt like a free fall. Then a stop. Adjust course. Fall again. Repeat.
Changing circumstances, new normals, and complete upheaval have been standard operating procedure. First the shelter, then emergency relief, now finally…finally a reopening plan is in the works for us at Mission To El Salvador. But we still don’t know what things will look like in a month. All of our plans and projections for 2020 have been stripped away. The missions we hoped to complete, the places we thought our clients would go. The things that would start, the graduations that would happen…all stalling and spinning.
When you love to check tasks off your list, what do you do when your lists all just go up in smoke?
You go back to what success really means, what it really looks like. The quote above by Mother Teresa says it so well. She is a hero of mine. She dedicated herself to serving the very poor and destitute. She suffered with the suffering, and she met Jesus there. She didn’t measure her success by how many people walked free of the slums of India, or how many were healed of leprosy.
She measured success by simple faithfulness.
Isn’t that all that God is asking of us anyway? But I like to complicate things with my own efforts, and my hard work, my plans, and my very best strategies. I think of Moses in Exodus 17. His only job was to show up for a battle with the Amalekites. God didn’t demand a strategy, or some ingenious new innovation to route the enemy. He simply called Moses to stand there with his arms raised in obedience. When his arms fell, so did the Israelite army. But he couldn’t even complete that task…he grew weary, he sat down, he relied on others to hold his arms up, but in the end he faithfully stayed the course and the battle was won.
There have been moments over these last months where I’ve been tempted to pack my bags and leave. It’s been lonely, and isolating, and scary. I’ve felt insecure far from family, I’ve wondered if I’m making the best parenting choices. Discouragement and disappointment have felt like heavy loads to bear. Despite the struggles I don’t regret staying because I know that we have been faithful to our calling.
We have been tired, we have leaned hard on others, we have sat down, and we certainly haven’t been successful in ways that we had hoped. But we have stayed the course.
Our faithfulness has been messy, and far from perfect.
But God’s faithfulness stands in stark contrast to our own. His faithfulness to us has been steady, unwavering. To find success we need only to lean into the work that he is doing. Because he is moving in the face of adversity. There is healing happening in the lives of our clients…months and months of sobriety, family reconciliations, new and healthy resolutions, and so much more.
To find success in this season, we simply need to show up for battle, raise our tired arms and be faithful to the one who is infinitely more faithful to us.