I had to answer a question on a survey this past weekend: Were you successful?
My answer: It depends on how you define success.
I attended the first (hopefully) Annual Galveston Book Festival, organized by Texas Authors Association. However, because of unseen obstacles, the event didn’t go quite as planned and the few dozen Texas independent authors didn’t sell many books. In fact, I think only a handful of shoppers stopped by. Bust.
In spite of the lack of happy crowds of readers offering handfuls of cash for our precious works, I still felt joy. I still visited with many awesome people. And most of us tried to encourage each other AND our fearless leader and founder of Texas Authors, Alan. (I know that if Alan keeps up the work, next year will be better for all of us.) I felt no guilt at the money spent or the time away from my husband and the many chores of a small farm, and not even guilt at the possibility of missing church and Sunday School. I did sell two books – to other authors – and bought one book. I also enjoyed an awesome catered lunch.
What else did I enjoy? How about a safe 200+ mile (one way) trek through Houston and all of its frustrating construction, driving a brand-new truck and pulling a new-to-me horse trailer with living quarters? Or, the smell of salt air and soothing sound of surf as I spent my first night in my trailer in a Walmart parking lot across the street from the Gulf of Mexico? Or, a breathtaking sunrise over foamy waters straining up white, sandy beaches – and hardy fishermen with long poles, trying to tempt a fish or two out of the water? How about the gift of my verse of the day from Bible.com from Psalm 4:8, ‘In peace I will lie down and sleep, because You alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety’?
I had some quality time meditating on my Lord and Savior as I drove, and I listened to several Christian radio stations as they came into and back out of range. I didn’t realize there were so many good stations. And through the past few days, preparing for this trip, I got to set up my new horse trailer/living quarters, and day-dream, and even loaded my horse without incident (a very successful moment.)
What gave me so much joy?
I got to share Jesus with a few new people. I had the opportunity to share the ability to talk about Jesus in a public place and demonstrate that it is okay to speak openly about God. It reminded me of how surprised I was when a couple years ago I was asked about my belief and relationship with Jesus as my savior by a man who was clearing my land with a bulldozer. It had been a very long time since I’d heard anyone speak like that: boldly about the Lord. It encouraged me to do the same.
Is that success?
It could be. I planted seeds of faith, others may come along and water or cultivate, but the growth – the success – is up to God.
But I didn’t sell books. I didn’t pay for my trip or make a profit.
In fact, I have rarely seen that sort of success in my life, now that I think of it. Just about everything I’ve done has been a bit wimpy. True, I’ve always worked, either in my home or for someone else, and I’ve been able to pay my bills. But I’ve never experienced that blockbusting success that most people would notice and admire or hope for. Some people wonder why I keep at it (whatever ‘it’ may be at the time) and some people applaud me for soldiering on. What? I don’t consider that I’m just plugging forward – I’m doing what gives me joy.
So, what is success?
In this life, we give ourselves tasks and goals such as education, or employment, or homemaking, or child-rearing. If we have a good job or profitable business, a nice home, fine children, we count ourselves successful. However, this life is not our own – it’s only temporary. Regardless of what any person believes about the existence of God, or how the afterlife works, the ‘stuff’ we do and accumulate in this life ends with this life. We can’t take it with us. But for the Christian, the one who believes in One God, the Holy Trinity, and Salvation through the sacrifice of Jesus, we have another task.
Jesus told His followers, “Go and tell them the Gospel.” His great commission is to share the truth about Him, about Jesus: He is the Son of the Living God, He was sent to this world to provide a Way back to a personal relationship with God, He was crucified, dead, and buried, and the third day He came back from the dead of His Own Power. Jesus revealed Himself to His people before He ascended into Heaven to sit at the right hand of God, and then He sent the Helper, the Holy Spirit to fill us and guide us. That is the only task which counts for anything.
Was I successful?
What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, but loses his soul?