This post was initially meant mark my summer’s end and implementing the truths I had learned along with it. I then changed my mind. There really was no good way to write what I wanted to write without getting caught up in the trends of people being superficially sentimental regarding camp. My summer was not about the superficial and I hope yours was not either. The reality was I spent my summer at camp, it was not all good just as it was not all bad, and there is no reason to say goodbye because in whatever capacity this is not the end. God showed and when I let Him taught me some tremendous things, and that is great, but I cannot long for a place where He had me and miss out on what He has where I am.
This summer for me was about failure. Granted my summer was about a great deal of things, but as I continued I kept coming back to the idea of success and failure. The way I see it there are two primary forms of “success” in the reality in which we live. Those successes are Christ success and human success. Out of the two only one is able to be fully achieved.
Christ success is everything we are and have through Him because we believe/live in the position truth of Christ. This success can be obtained simply by anyone who believes and follows Him. The first requirement is to admit failure. To receive/partake in the success of Christ you have to first admit you as a human, in all of your flesh, have failed, and are a failure. Success in Christ is about failure in ourselves! Seriously, is that not a brilliant system, this inconceivable concept is so far removed from any system ever established by the world that it has to be from God. To be wise we must become fools, it sums up the very idea how success in Christ is opposite success by the world’s standard. I love 1 Corinthians 4 because Paul explains his success in Christ and tells the people of Corinth to imitate Him. They do not need anything in the worldly sense because in Christ they have everything. This is not in the material sense either, while I am sure their needs were provided for, they had all the success and life they needed because of Christ. We have everything we need in Christ. If that means living in a tent ministering to homeless people, being the director of a camp or even a professor at a school, our success is in Him and we should striving for nothing less.
1 Corinthians 4: 6-21 “6 I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. 7 For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?
8 Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! Without us you have become kings! And would that you did reign, so that we might share the rule with you! 9 For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. 10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. 11 To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, 12 and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; 13 when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.
14 I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. 15 For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 16 I urge you, then, be imitators of me. 17 That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church. 18 Some are arrogant, as though I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I will find out not the talk of these arrogant people but their power. 20 For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power. 21 What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love in a spirit of gentleness?”
Human success is something we can never have. It is nothing more than a fantasy, an unobtainable dream or wish. The world, our deepest whispers of the flesh, people, friends, even in Christianity, there is this idea of being successful, of reaching some pinnacle, to make it to the top. This false idea of success only helps to build a permanent home for failure. It takes the very nature we were born in and makes us think we need nothing else. Boy does it do a hell of a job too! (apologies to more conservative readers) Through small victories, promotions, recognition, material things, praise and so on the flesh convinces us if we make the next milestone maybe we will hit a pinnacle and be content. The longer we live in the failure of our flesh, striving for some form of fulfillment, the more empty we actually become. Human success is like holding a hand full of sand, no matter how tight you hold onto it you are going to end up with an empty palm regardless of how much sand you began with.
Human success is like technology. Whenever a new piece of technology comes out it is marketed and sold as if it is the end all, you have got to have it, nothing is better. One year later that technology becomes obsolete being replaced with the latest and greatest must have item, continuing an unending cycle to find the ultimate fulfillment without it ever coming. This is the war our flesh wages. What do we want more, success in Christ, or the idea of success in ourselves? Choosing Christ is a difficult and consistent struggle. As we go throughout our day our flesh wants to buy into the idea that WE can do it, that WE need to do it. The truth is we cannot do it and we do not need to do it, He does.He wants us to succeed, but He wants that His way not ours. And why not? His way is so much better, all it takes is to see and admit the failure of our flesh and know that He makes up for it.
This summer I constantly came back to the thought “I can’t do this.” Over and over in my head I told myself that, never realizing that all along I was praying a brilliant prayer recognizing a truth and need that cries for dependency upon Him. For example, I like to use the dish room at camp, because I have loved and hated it, and am growing more and more to love as time goes by. I am not fully there yet, but someday we may both have an understanding. Whenever I would get asked to go into it I would see it as failure in the worldly sense. The world tells us that we are too good to do dishes, we should be doing something important, we should be leading, or speaking, not doing dishes. We see this in Christianity and the world. So maybe we do or we do not avoid them. Christ tell us that while our flesh may not enjoy doing the dishes, we have success in Him, and we can do them serving and succeeding in helping the cause. There is nothing more important, nothing more successful than choosing to do any given task at any given moment through our position in Christ.
I succeeded at camp this summer just as I am succeeding at school now. This is not because of roles or achievements but by recognition of failure, admitting I cannot do it in myself, and allowing His success to be mine. Every hour, every second, we are closer to departing this world, so do we strive for vanity or do we live for something better? I am glad to say that this summer and in this life I have failed. I say this joyfully and would not have it any other way. I am a failure and I am alright with that. Failure in ourselves is success in Christ. He takes unexceptional people and does exceptional things so He and He alone can have the glory.