September 22, 2016
A department store would define success according to the number of sales and the profit margin. A stockbroker is considered successful if investments turn out to be profitable. A student feels successful when receiving a degree or landing a dream job.
I listened to a recently retired person talk about their career. After decades of effort in another country, they had the privilege of finally seeing the New Testament presented to the people of the village where they lived. Along with a co-worker, this person gave the best years of their life to writing a language and then translating the New Testament into that language.
The effort was finally completed. That village now has the New Testament in their own language. As I listened to the story of the process, and observed the emotion of the speaker, I noticed how carefully the Book was handled.
I thought about how many New Testaments, in addition to entire Bibles, I have on my shelves. I sometimes open them carelessly to find a passage. When one Bible gets worn, I get another one. I can even access the entire Bible on my smartphone – anytime and anywhere – and even look up words in the original languages.
After the meeting, I asked if I could hold that New Testament. I felt like I was turning the pages of someone’s life, because that book represented the best years of at least two people. And I thought about the definition of success. I thought about a huge increase in a stock market investment. I considered the stories of men and women who are credited with taking the Gospel to thousands of people.
But someone who gave their entire working years to getting a New Testament into the language of the people in a single village – is that a success story? Of course it is – both to the recipients of that Book and to the persons who obeyed Creator God and followed faithfully His call on their lives. God’s definition of success is obedience to His call. I am grateful for the reminder.
Pastor Bill Ehmann