After nearly thirty-six hours of travel, three flights, six meals, and one relatively sleepless night, I was tired, worn, and ready for a shower. However, even with my travel exhaustion, I noticed two things: the smell of the new food and the haste at which every single person was moving. I stand up in the plane and feel people quickly shuffling off, nearly running through the airport… even at four in the morning!
There was a haste, that in my western world, I never knew existed.
As I began to settle in, this observation only manifested itself more.
When I went to the markets, people ran through to get their grocery items, pay, and leave. On the buses, people rushed on, scanned their card, and walked to the exit so that they may jump off as soon as their stop arrived.
As I became more fluent with the culture, I began to understand this was their way of life.
I was warned before I came to not pay too much attention to my watch, as the hour of the day was not as important. I realized that the angle of which my watch hands stood was irrelevant compared to the time it took for the second hand to make its way around the face. The hour of the day was not important, the time it took to do something was.
People rushed here and there, ran through procedures, trying their hardest to get something done so that they could move to the next task. I began to wonder, why are they doing this? Why are the people so eager to get to the next thing?
After forming relationships and making friends with many university students, I decided to ask some questions about culture and life. The answer to those questions began to unwind before me.
So much of why the students, and people in general, work so hard, move with so much haste, and live on a life moving thousands of miles an hour, all ties down to one thing: success.
The desire to work hard and be successful is engraved in the minds of everyone. I have never seen such hard working people in my life. And, the thing that makes it greater, is that the people want to work and want to do well.
I remember always asking my new friends, “What did you do last night? How was your weekend? Did you do anything fun?”
The answer was always the same, “Paper!”
My friends were master’s students working on degrees in engineering, computers, and more. Their entire lives revolved around their school success and their future successful careers. Nothing else mattered.
But if nothing else mattered, what would happen when they reach their goals? These students are only years, maybe even months away from reaching their goal. Then what? What happens when they get what they lived for, but still have fifty years left of life? Will they make a new goal? Will they strive for more? Will their desire for success ever plateau?
Also on the contrary, what if they never hit their goal? What then?
As these questions swirl, another question arises. Why is success the answer? Are they trying to succeed for a person? Are they trying to live in a secure life style? Are they trying to be happy?
As our conversations became heavier and our theories of life were discussed, we began to talk about a man named Jesus. We spoke about Him as our Savior and our King, we recognized Him as the Creator and the Ultimate Sacrifice. God is God, He is the King of Kings, He has everything in the palm of His hand and He is Everything. God is from everlasting to everlasting. Hence, He does not need us, but He still CHOSE us.
As the Creator of the world, the Creator of each person, and the King of all things, He does not need your success, but He does want your surrender.
He calls His children to take up their cross and to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and then promises that all things shall be added.
What is success without direction?
God says to acknowledge Him in all your ways, and He will make your paths straight.
Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
God is faithful and God is trustworthy. He promises that if we trust in Him and come to Him, He will lead us in the way everlasting.
Success will have a new name. Instead of being a plateau or a destination, it is fullness, eternal life, and a relationship.
It was always incredible to see how swiftly and quickly everyone got things done, but it pains my heart to ask what the purpose behind it was.
During my time in the city, I saw seeds planted and hearts touched. I saw people realize what they were being called for and by whom. I saw the perception of success and purpose transform before them, and I saw life come in.
As Christians, we pray for God’s kingdom to come, and for His Will to be done. We pray “on earth as it is in heaven.” When a person surrenders their life to God, they are accepting His Will, His forgiveness, His freedom, and His inheritance as His child.
God does not need you to get all of your work done, He does not need you to have a PhD, or ten kids, or riches, He has everything. But even with that, He wants you and He chose you.
When surrender occurs, Christians see what they pray for. Heaven comes down, and God lifts His child up.
On earth as it is in heaven.