Making a Mess of Success
- Thursday, September 21, 2006
“What is taking so long?” I fumed as I waited for the doctors to arrive to begin my kidney transplant operation. I was lying on a bed in a pre-op room, wearing one of those wonderful hospital gowns — you know the type. The room was fairly cold and the nurses were bustling about doing what nurses do, not paying much attention to me. I was in sort of a twilight zone, but it seemed as if I had been cooling my heels for hours — and patience had never been one of my strengths. All I knew was that I was cold, uncomfortable, and apprehensive about the transplant and that I wanted to get it over with.
What I didn’t know was that at that very moment, in the room next door, my son Michael was fighting for his life. As the doctors removed the kidney that Michael was donating to me, one of his lungs collapsed and his situation became perilous. While they were working to stabilize my son’s condition, I was grumping and grousing in the next room about the inconvenience of having to wait.
I open with this story because in a lot of ways it sums up a major crisis in my life that had encompassed my physical, emotional, and spiritual health for years. I hadn’t intended to end up self-absorbed, physically sick, emotionally out of balance, and spiritually isolated, but that’s what happened. I was angry, impatient, disappointed, and frustrated with a lot of things in my life — and I was under a ton of stress. Along the way I had stopped relying on God and began to lean heavily on my own understanding and my own resources. The results were a major spiritual and emotional burnout and some very serious physical problems.
I want to share my story with you because I’ve found that most people, in one way or another and at one time or another, find themselves in similar circumstances: fed up, burned out, frustrated, and out of step with God. Maybe you are going through a similar struggle in your own life right now. Perhaps you, too, have experienced the joy that comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ. Then, through the busyness of life, being pulled in every direction, you’ve lost your bearings and drifted away from God’s best plan for you.
If the truth be told, we’re all susceptible to drifting. There are so many voices in our culture that compete with God’s voice for our attention. We begin to believe that we need more to be happy. More power. More love. More sex. More food. More travel. More things. These voices grow louder and louder, and soon we ignore the voice in our spirit that cries out, “No! We don’t need more things; we just need more of God.” As Jesus said, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?”
It can happen suddenly, or gradually. If our guard is down, we can easily fall prey to the whims of the world. I know firsthand what it feels like to succumb to the temptation for more things, more money, more recognition, more comfort, and more leisure. Though I achieved just about everything I could possibly want in a material sense, I lost life’s satisfaction and the enjoyment of God’s blessings for a period of about ten years. I was miserable, and I wasn’t sure if I could ever regain the joy I had once known.
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