success discussions... || by jonathan

the following are late night thoughts after incredible convos with incredible people: CnL…chuckle.


And the Lord said, “Go.” (Genesis 12:1)

The pilgrim said, “Go where?”

Lord: “Go.”

Pilgrim: “How will I know the way?”

Lord: “Do you trust me? Go.”

Pilgrim: “How will I know when I get there?”

Lord: “Will you trust me? Go.”

Explorers ventured out on strange seas to unknown places and, in so doing, re-made their world. Buy a book or take a course on history and you can read about about Vasco de Gamma(Portuguese explorer who established the first the trade route from Europe to India), Columbus (You know Chris…opened the Americas to European exploration), and Jacques Cartier(discovered Canada and sailed down the St. Lawrence to where Montreal would be born)…totally inspiring stuff. Then there is Ferdinand Magellan…left his homeland in Portugal to join the Spanish court in search of a king to sponsor his mad dream of sailing west to discover Spice Islands that lay to the East. So bold…so crazy…so imaginative for his day! I read an article that was an overview of a book based on this first circumnavigation of the world by the stubborn, determined, amazing navigator, Magellan. Laurence Bergreen’s book, Over the Edge of the World described how almost no one believed in the possibility of Magellan’s dream.

Few would risk such madness. Magellan spent years forging alliances with brilliant and odd friends who brought the skills and resources to his venture. Finally, Magellan had the resources and people for the adventure. But the maps of the world in those days were piteously inadequate. Maps were the equivalent of the secrets to making nuclear weapons. No country would share them with another. They were kept locked in vaults and viewed as the most important of state secrets. Magellan, therefore, had few maps with which to work with and those he had were terribly inaccurate. They represented the Atlantic as a huge body of water but the Pacific as a tiny pond surrounded by a huge land mass. With such maps, a deeply suspicious crew and co-captain, he set sail down the coast of Africa then made a mad dash across the south Atlantic on the Trade Winds landing on the coast of South America several hundreds of miles from the terrible waters which later came to be named the Straights of Magellan. A little band of people, with all their venality, pride, power, needs and shortsightedness sailed the winds of an uncharted world in tiny boats and changed the face of the earth.”

Alex Roxburgh writes, “There are times when ventures are waiting to be birthed. There are tides and winds which, if risked, bear us to places and worlds our imaginations could not comprehend from this shore.

My heart burns when I allow myself to feel through this…
So…some ramblings as I ‘burn’ tonight:

Life does not come with a clearly defined road map.

We take one step after another.

We move forward without the ability to forecast the results of each step or decision.

Plans change. Situations morph. Life throws us curve balls. Things seldom turn out according to our wish, plan or anticipation.

No one really knows what is going on.

I am often asked, “Does God have a specific plan for my life?”

Yes, God does have a plan. God’s plan is that we might become the deep, fully alive, loving human beings we were created to be. We exist to manifest in the visible realm that invisible beauty that is our true nature created in the image of God. As William Blake wrote in “Songs of Innocence,”

And we are put on earth a little space
That we may learn to bear the beams of love

That is the only plan I know of. The specifics of how that plan works out in our lives are basically irrelevant.

The beauty of God’s plan is that you can fulfill it anywhere, doing anything. It does not matter what the external circumstances of your life may be. Anything and everything can be used to help you become radiant with the life of Jesus that is your true destiny.

You don’t need an academic degree, a particular career, or a special relationship. You only need a heart that is open to the Spirit and willingness to grow.

The wonderfully unique detail about God’s plan that usually spins us right out is that it works best when we don’t know what is going on.

God’s plan is most effective when we don’t understand.

When we cannot make sense of what is happening.

Because the essential requirement for God’s plan to be all that He intended is: trust. Trust grows in the soil of uncertainty; it thrives in the land of doubt and confusion.

The prophet Jeremiah says,

Blessed are those who trust in the Lord,
whose trust is the Lord.
They shall be like a tree planted by water,
sending out its roots by the stream.
It shall not fear when heat comes,
And its leaves shall stay green;
in the year of drought it is not anxious,
and it does not cease to bear fruit.
(Jeremiah 17:7,8)

We do not know where the journey of our lives will lead. All we can know for sure is that there will be times when we feel nourished and sustained AND there will be times when life seems barren and dry. If our roots go down deep, we will pass through times of feast without attachment and survive famine without fear. The wind will blow; but the life with deep roots withstands and even THRIVES in the storms.

These contrary and painful life experiences are gifts given to us to help us develop the muscles of trust. If life were all smooth and the skies always sunny, we would never develop the inner resilience of faith that can stand firm no matter what circumstances we face. Men and Women of character are forged on the anvil of trust…taking the repeated blows of life.

With trust we are able to step into the unknown, confident that only good can come.

The good may not look the way we had hoped.

The good may lay on the other side of great pain.

But it will be good because it gives us an opportunity to open more deeply to that inner reality that is the imprint of Christ at the core of our being. Our attachment to Him, rather than to any particular outcome or plan, is the crux that allows us to journey in joy and freedom.

The beauty of trust is that no one can take it from me. I may lose my career. My family may abandon me. My investments may tank or evaporate. My health may be gone…my strength will fade.

But I can always choose to trust. I can always give myself to the reality of Jesus…who is holding my life, sustaining my heart and enabling me to grow and deepen in my ability to love.

No one knows the future.

We never really understand the past.

We move forward with courage because we trust that whatever we encounter, it will be another opportunity partner with Jesus in the plan of redemption. And in the process He will call us to “Come further up and further in…”

And I love the ongoing discovery that “the further up and the further in you go, the bigger everything gets. The inside is larger than the outside.”

So stop stressing about living a successful life.

Sometimes you have to the roll the dice and go all in…and not worry about ‘what now?????”. Success is not in the accomplishment of something.

Success is in the going. Or as my brotha Luis said last night, ‘Success is in the obedience.’

It’s in the growing.


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