"So we make it our goal to please Him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad."
2 Corinthians 5:9-10 (NIV)
One of the more creative and memorable assignments I ever received in college was having to write my own obituary. I am not kidding. The goal of the exercise was to encourage us twenty-something, young students to put down in writing what we hoped we would accomplish in our lifetimes. Our professor had us include who our families were at the time of our "death", including our spouse (most of us were single at that time), children, and grandchildren. We were also instructed to put down how far we had gone in our chosen professions, including advanced degrees and accomplishments or honors that we had received in our particular field. I remember pouring much time and thought into what I hoped my future would look like. I thoroughly enjoyed the assignment and described myself in glowing terms in all areas. In my obituary, I left behind a loving family with several happily married children who had given me lots of grandbabies. I also had gotten a doctorate degree in my field (what a laugh-I haven't practiced in my profession for eleven years nor have I darkened the doorway of a college classroom since then!) and had received great honors. I painted a picture of success in all areas. I did not mention anything, however, about my spiritual state in those paragraphs.
What would God say about me if He wrote my earthly obituary and put it in the newspaper for all to read? His opinion is the most important to me, isn't it? Funny how that escaped me at twenty-two years old. What is the most important to Him? What does a successful life look like to Him? Although He is the giver of intelligence, I don't think advanced degrees impress Him too much. In fact, all the human accomplishments that I thought made me worthy and successful included in my fake obituary would not mean a hill of beans to Him if I achieved those things without living under the following standard:
He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8 (NIV)
A life well-lived, in His opinion, requires fairness and impartiality on my part, grace extended even to those who I don't think deserve it, and humility as I lose my life in Him. What impresses Him most costs me a great deal. It requires me to confront my own selfishness and kill it. My flesh doesn't like that, so it is a constant struggle for me to be successful in the way God views success.
One day, actually, God is going to reveal my life. Not in the way I want it to look or the way I have tried to fool others into thinking it has looked, but in the way I actually lived it out. I will be accountable for all that I have done. Is my life's goal to please Him or to please myself? In my striving to be good enough in the world's eyes will I have missed out on what was really important, on true success? Dear, merciful God, save me from that, I pray.
Jesus, help me to live with the knowledge that I am accountable for my actions. I don't want to miss out on Your idea of success for my life. At the last curtain call, may I be found faithful. I long to hear from my heavenly Father's mouth, "Well done, my good and faithful servant."