Recently, I had a birthday. As if getting another year older isn’t bad enough, while at lunch with some friends, I was posed this question: “So what was your greatest accomplishment this year?”

Hmmm. My mind went through a mother’s roll-a-dex of visual images—soccer games, homework, late nights, working hard but never having enough money, the long list of projects and tasks that remained un-attempted, not to mention, un-done. I couldn’t think of one successful accomplishment. I had given up my teaching job to focus on writing; while I had managed to begin blogging, I didn’t have one manuscript ready for publication, and I hadn’t contacted any agents yet. The final kicker was even less disposable income then we had before.

My mind raced, while panic and embarrassment crowded in. I must have done something!

My thoughts traveled to my first area of concern—the kids. Our oldest child had graduated from high school and entered college, and he was doing well. That was something! But that was all God. I had been teaching and speaking a lot at church events and connecting more with people, but that was God, too. I had been blessed with information about my dad’s death, had visited the site, and had delivered a powerful sermon in church about our relationship to God the Father. That was an obvious, overwhelming act of God.

It was all God. I had enjoyed a year of God’s amazing accomplishments in me and through me. I had done nothing but present myself as a conduit of God’s grace. Although setting personal goals and achieving them can certainly be called a practical pursuit, maybe I had achieved greater success by achieving nothing at all. For a rare year of my life, I had intentionally attempted a counter-cultural shift by mentally extricating myself from competitive middle-class Christianity. I had attempted to set aside personal ambition, as well as crazed busyness, to facilitate guidance by the Holy Spirit. By studying deeply and sharing openly, I believe I have been radically transformed.

My faith is significantly more mature. Shouldn’t that be my ultimate—and perhaps only—ambition for any given year?

The challenge for me now is to remain this way, to fight the desire for measured success so I can temporarily feel good about myself. This objective will require a continual surrendering of personal fulfillment to the immeasurable and incomprehensible filling of the Holy Spirit, however unsuccessful that may appear day-to-day. That is challenge enough.

Rom. 12:1-2 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

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