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Permission to Succeed

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10 NIV)

The only thing that I’ve never stopped wanting to be “when I grow up” is a novelist. (Okay, and a fairy princess.) Seriously, ever since I wrote my first story – in Kindergarten – writing stories has been my highest goal in life. Yet I have spent so much of my life debating whether writing was really what God wanted me to do that I nearly talked myself out of it.

Somewhere along the way, I picked up the idea that God only calls people to things they don’t want to do. While it’s true that serving God requires sacrifice, I somehow construed that to mean that serving God can’t be any fun. If I want to write, and if I want to be successful, then it’s selfish, and since selfishness is sinful, it’s a sin to want be a successful writer. (If that logic confuses you, you’re not alone.)

In the Deep Waters class this past weekend, we learned about God’s Call. There are different kinds of Call, but I’m talking about the life thread call, the great mission in your life call: the “good works” I was “created in Christ Jesus to do” (Ephesians 2:10 NIV).

We studied how God called Moses to free the Israelites. It was a cause Moses was so passionate about that, while he was growing up as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, he had killed an Egyptian for mistreating a Hebrew (Exodus 2:11-12). Because of his mistake, Moses was forced to flee the country that had raised him (Exodus 2:15). Had Moses stayed in good standing with the Pharaoh, he might one day have gained enough power to free the Hebrews simply by his word. With the call from the burning bush, God was giving him a chance not only to follow his passion, but to redeem his mistake. Moses might have thought he had disqualified himself from God’s plan, but God still wanted to use him.

What I realized during Deep Waters was that the “original plan” (if you can say that God had a Plan A) was a pretty good one for Moses. Moses might have stayed a prince of Egypt – not a bad place to be, all things considered. Like Joseph before him, God allowed Moses to be royalty. Others were blessed in worldly ways by God’s call, too. When God called David to be King, he showered him with wealth and said, “And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more” (2 Samuel 12:8b NIV). God promised King Solomon “wealth, possessions and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have” (2 Chronicles 1:12b NIV).

Now, I hardly need to remind you that nowhere does God guarantee us worldly success. He actually promises that God’s followers will have troubles (John 16:33) – if no other trouble than the temptations of wealth! (See Mark 10:23-25.) However, I have no problem remembering that success is not guaranteed. What I needed to be reminded was that when we are living a life that makes use of the talents and passions God gave us, we might have some success, and that’s fine, too.

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