Written by Vicky Ng, Art by Christine Hwang
But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. (Psalm 1:2-3)
According to the dictionary, success is defined as “the achievement of something desired, planned, or attempted” or “the gain of fame and prosperity”. However, I doubt God’s definition of success has anything to do with fame or prosperity. Jesus told us in order to be well provided for, we should seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matt. 6:33).
Those who seek fame and prosperity are not guaranteed to share eternity with God after death. Even those who have made many significant contributions to society may not necessarily be considered successful in the eyes of God. Jesus said to those who have used his name to justify what they do, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 7:21) The Apostle John also wrote, “The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” (2 John 2:17) From God’s point of view, only those who willingly do things according toÂ HisÂ desires are successful. In other words, to lead a successful life is to actively strive to live in the center of God’s will.
The problem is that most of the time we do not know what God wants. Remember Joseph in the Old Testament? Aside from Jesus, many have considered him to be the perfect man or someone whose actions are all acceptable in God’s eyes. Joseph was sold by his ten brothers and ended up as a slave in Egypt, but after 13 years of further suffering, he became the prime minister of Egypt. No matter whether he was a slave, a prisoner, or a prime minister, he was always successful in the eyes of God. How was this possible? Let’s take a look at some verses that revealed Joseph’s success: “The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered”, “The Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did”, “the Lord blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph”, “the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warder”, and “because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.” (Genesis 39:2, 3, 5, 23) I hope you noticed the phrase that was repeated five times in these verses. They reveal Joseph’s key to success: The Lord was with Joseph! Joseph could not do it by himself; God’s presence was the key to His success. If we want to know God’s will, we need to make sure God is with us.
Though it appeared that God showed favoritism toward Joseph, it was Joseph who chose to remain firmly in God’s presence by not yielding to sinful acts. Joseph’s response made it possible for God’s blessing to flow through him. It pleases God when we actively ask Him to show us how to be successful or how to do things according to His will. You and I have equal access to God’s blessing as long as we choose to remain in a position where His blessings can flow through. I call this act of constantly adjusting ourselves in order to hear God’s voice and receive His power to do the right thing the spiritual discipline of “positioning”. As outdated as spiritual discipline may sound to you, its timeless truth can be found in the physics concepts of potential and kinetic energy.
Energy is the capacity to do work and the two types of energy are potential and kinetic energy. Potential energy is the energy being stored. Kinetic energy is the energy released in motion. The former has to do with the position where the object is, while the latter has to do with the time when the energy is released from the object. The two are coupled. For example, when we ride on a roller coaster, the downward unstopping motion that gives us a rush is the kinetic energy. To achieve that spontaneous seamless downward flow, the roller coaster has to be hauled up to that high position. That is the position allowing it to store up higher potential energy, and that first minute of the painfully slow upward ascent energy-requiring process is what put us in that favorable position. No matter if it is roller coaster, playing the musical box, coming down a slide, or diving, those are the parts we enjoy. But first you need to convert kinetic energy to potential energy by climbing up, going against gravity, and flexing your muscles before you release the stored energy.
In the same way, in order to make edifying choices during any occasion, we need to move to that advantageous position where we can be in tune with Him and understand His likes and dislikes. It takes hard work to move to that position! You cannot rely on “feng-shui”, (the Chinese way of finding good energy by geographical location), positive thinking, or willpower. You simply have to hold onto His Words. The Bible teaches us that a man who meditates on God’s words day and night is like a tree that plants itself by streams of water. The planting process is tough work and requires the constant adjustment of our thinking patterns, the development of new habits, and fighting against distractions, but the end results are worth it. Slowly and gradually you will see the difference it makes: you will be more peaceful, more joyful, and more discerning of what He desires of you at different times of your life.
Convinced yet? Try memorizing Psalm 1:2-3 and meditating on those verses daily for two weeks. It will help you to place yourself in a better position and with practice can guarantee you success!