Jim Elliot didn't write this in his journal after he had gotten to the mission field. He didn't write it right before he became a martyr. He wasn't even married yet, nor did he know that he would be one day. He wrote it before he even boarded the ship to sail to Ecuador. It was in a season of waiting and quietness that he penned this excerpt...no dreams fulfilled, nothing extremely great had been accomplished.
I read this and it pierced me to the core, because for a most of my existence I have measured my life's worth by my accomplishments. My success or failure impacted me greatly. When I looked at my life, I saw what I achieved, or hoped to achieve. Now I ask myself, does what I strive to attain in this life amount to anything in eternity? Does doing something great for God in the eyes of man make for a fuller life than one lived for Christ away from the spotlight and invisible to the history books?
It never really occurred to me that God may call me to do something, and it may fail in my eyes. (If it did, it was a fleeting thought.) He may call me to speak to someone and they may not respond. He may call me to do something that is an absolute waste of time in most people’s eyes. I may never do all that is in my heart. My life may be extremely brief. There have been many men and women of God that have been called to go to foreign lands only to die before they ever reach the soil. Is that a waste, a tragedy? Or might it be part of the great plans of all-knowing and all-powerful God?
I cannot claim to know the mind of God in this matter, but I do want to live every single day in such a way that I am ready and eager to meet my Lord. I want to strive for excellence in God’s perspective, not man’s. May I simply obey, not regarding the ‘success’ or ‘failure' of what I am called to do in this life. Only Jesus, His Great Name and His Kingdom matter in eternity. The greatness of mine matters less than a leaf floating in the wind. The less I am, the greater His power in my life.
If life ends tomorrow, will it be known that I lived for things that matter eternally or for my own personal (or even religious) achievements? There is a difference. Oh, there is a vast difference between achievements and a life spent for the sake of Christ.
As I plough ahead, death may lie shortly before me. I may head into a life that is far from what I ever dreamed. Even so, it can be full simply because I have God, I know Him and I live for Him. I have set my course - it it Christ. I cannot look back and be effective for the Kingdom.
So here I go. I'm digging my feet in and heading where He leads. I'm not looking back at things that have passed. I’m not taking glances at those who are headed on a different path. I'm not going to mourn the loss of my broken dreams that will be crushed under the weigh and worthiness of the Gospel. In reality I will lose nothing and gain Christ. I will love my life because God has given it, but I will not hold it too close for His sake, for the Gospel.
Failure means nothing. Success, it is meaningless. For Jesus alone I live and for Jesus alone I will die.