For years I have been on metaphysical merry-go-round, running after success and fame. I chased after it as a musician in my 20’s, as a minister in my 30’s, as a teacher and coach in my 40’s, and as an author in my 50’s. The endless striving comes out of my own story that left me hopelessly stained with a sense of failure and aloneness during my adolescent years.
As I got older, my mind could grasp how deceptive success could be and how ephemeral fame truly was, yet my heart still compulsively grasped after both, scavenging among the dry husks of the world for anything to ingest. My head and heart, so divided, became a source of enormous anguish for me, always searching and never finding, trying to kill my heart in the process and never succeeding even there (thankfully).
But in the past few years, Jesus has been persistently entering my turmoil and closing that terrible chasm. Just last week, I was thinking through John 15 and was struck again by His words, words that suggest how anyone can find both success and fame in one step.
Jesus declared it simply in vs. 4: “Remain in me, and I will remain in you.” It’s as if he were saying, “You need to focus on one thing only: stay close to Me, make your heart’s home in Me, seek to stay in My presence. If you persist, I will come and make your heart My home, coaching you and walking with you all the way to the end.”
But the really momentous stuff comes after this: “If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit” (vs. 5), and then again in vs. 8: “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit.” The operative word here is much. If we stay yoked to Jesus, we will produce a bountiful harvest. In other words, we will become a success before Him, famous in His eyes, for we are known and favored by Him, and in the end, only His opinion of us matters. We truly play our lives out before an audience of one, whether we realize it or not.
As I have struggled to remain in Jesus, I have been feeling those eyes upon me, eyes that desire my company, and along with that His voice whispering: I know you, I understand you, I hear you. When I’m listening to HIm, I don’t even think about success or fame anymore. I’m just enjoying Him.
It’s then I realize: The aching divide is closing. I’m not running anymore.
That’s the wonder of Jesus.