This week we want to share a piece from Cultivate: The Clarity Winter Brings written by Jessie Miller. The coming of winter extends an invitation to reflect on the year behind us. We have the opportunity to receive His perspective and exchange our own limited view for His perfect one. Reflection with the Father is a powerful rhythm that leads us into clarity, understanding and compassion. As you read this piece, we encourage you to reflect on your most recent season and invite the Father to challenge your definition of success.
“Success is not a formula with concrete feelings attached to it. Success is trust in the One who knows your story better than you.”
Do you ever compare the season your heart is in now to the seasons past? Do you find yourself thinking back to a season where you felt more “together” than you do right now? Perhaps there was a time in your life when you felt like the Lord spoke to you more, or at least you listened better. Maybe your quiet time has changed its form, or your role in a community has shifted and it has left you with a feeling of guilt or shame. This guilt says that there was a time when you were able to give the Lord what He wanted, and that is no longer the case. We label ourselves as failures and falsely believe that the Lord agrees. We as humans have a desire to classify everything based on what we “know.” When something new arises, we want to connect it to things we have experienced in some way before. I believe this desire goes back to the Garden. God said, “Do not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:17). He knew it would be too much for us. But we did it anyway, and now we try to classify everything we experience as one or the other—good or evil, success or failure. Our perspective is so small. We can’t see the bigger picture, the “all things working together.” So we filter life experiences based on what feels right or wrong, what worked or what didn’t. We judge based on the little we know. I believe we often distance ourselves from the Lord because we see Him as we see ourselves: a critic, judging our current performance compared to our last season’s performances. When we are succeeding, He is happy and things feel good, and when we are failing, He is not happy, and things feel bad. We bite the fruit of knowledge over and over again instead of eating from the Tree of Life.
I want to encourage you to lay down your need to feel certain you are succeeding as it relates to what felt right in the past. Life with Jesus is all encompassing, and we are moving from glory to glory. Please, lay down the ruler of success that you brought with you from last season. It will not measure correctly in your new one. Success is not a formula with concrete feelings attached to it. Success is trust in the One who knows your story better than you. God does not need you to prove you are becoming better than you were. Growth with Him is life with Him. It is cyclical, not linear. He is growing different parts of you at different times. Growth in the Kingdom is not like height tally marks on a wall. God is not making sure your one mark keeps getting higher. He is not comparing you to your brothers and sisters. He is not crossing His fingers for a growth spurt. He is present, loving you in this very moment. He is tending to the garden of your heart. He is caring for you more than you can comprehend. Lay down the ruler of seasons past. Only He knows what success looks like for you in this season, and I believe it is different than what you think.
Prompt: Pray this prayer: “Father, forgive me for seeing you as the critic of my heart. Forgive me for comparing my past performance with my present. I confess that you are not a God who demands performance from me. Holy Spirit, show me what growth looks like for me right now.”