30 Days of Faith: Day 28
I was nothing special. Or at least that’s what I thought. Nothing unique, nothing outstanding. Consistently second. So consistently second, my track coach nick-named me Consistently Second Cindy. It was the story of my life—never a winner, always a runner-up. In fact, my motto in my adult life became, “Almost.”
Raised in the Appalachian mountains and square in the middle of the Bible belt, church was nothing new to me. My mother brought me to church shortly after my birth. She taught me good values and the importance of prayer. As I entered high school, it was mom who said, “When you do what is right, regardless of your situation or pressures, you’ll find yourself alone at your locker more than you find yourself with friends.” Boy was she right.
My personality makeup was never a defiant child rather I was the peacemaker and peacemakers are not high on the popularity list in high school. Never-the-less, I held tight to the relationship my mother had led me to have with my Father in heaven.
I learned early on my strength to muddle through was found when I was on my knees. I said, I learned…I didn’t say, I believed. The older I grew the less I felt I’d found success. My friends were succeeding in college, getting high paying jobs, starting families and me…I was moving through life, going to college, marrying, having children, but never feeling like I’d been successful at anything.
So when my marriage to a preacher failed—when I became second place to his alcohol, I’d lost all hope of self-esteem. Still, I never stopped praying. Never stopped trusting God would help me and when He did rescue me from a terrible marriage and a bad situation, I wasn’t surprised. The problem was, I wasn’t looking at what God was doing for me, instead I was looking at my failures.
I wrote constantly. Poems, thoughts, stories, children’s plays and it never once occurred to me the theme behind every piece I penned was the unfailing love of Christ. Talk about dense. The day God took hold of my shoulders and shook me, was one Sunday morning as I taught a college-age class.
“Don’t wait until you’re 32 years old like me, to realize you need an intimate relationship with Christ. Win or lose, He is all you need.”
Win or lose…the words snapped back. He is all you need. That was the moment I realized I was a skin-deep Christian. I loved God, went to church, believed in Him but the relationship I had with Him was purely platonic. Through every hard moment of my life, I’d prayed and God had answered. He saved me countless times but all I saw were the things I’d failed to make a success. And when I finally took hold of the hand that reached out to my soul and pulled me out of the mire, I saw the success found in Him.
I suddenly saw, success was not in the titles I held or even how I raised my family, but it was in the faith I placed in Christ to pull me through. Those were the successes that counted.
Oh, I occasionally win. I won first place in the novel contest at a major writers conference but most of the time, I’m second. I’ve come to believe it’s my thorn in the flesh. Like Paul, it’s the reminder that keeps me turned faithfully to Christ so He can use me.
It never occurred to me I was anything special at all but the day I finally held up my hands and said okay to God, He made me special. After all, He’s all I need.
Success is not measured by the titles we hold, the money we make or the awards we win. Success falls in the values we carry and how we allow God to use those things through us. Success is not ours to have, but His to give and when I learned that, when I took hold of God’s hand and let Him take charge, then the success of my heart grew.
I never imagined I’d help start a successful ministry. I never anticipated God would use me to share stories that shake the heart. I never thought in a million years, success within Christ was so wonderful.
It’s not what we do for ourselves but what we do for others that is most important. And when we develop that intimate relationship with Christ, when we say “yes” to Him, our success is found in the success of others.
God knew what He was doing when He placed the words of the golden rule into scripture. Do for others the things you’d have them do for you. In other words, be a servant first then your success comes through the satisfaction of knowing God has used you.
Sometimes I still feel insignificant. Satan knows how to attack me. But it isn’t long before Christ taps my shoulder and reminds me…”You are my child. I love you. Cast all your cares on me and let me care for you.”
So, yeah…I’m pretty special, very unique and definitely outstanding. And in His eyes, I’m never ALMOST. I’m always first.