“Does it work? I mean, are you seeing any results or changes in Kroo Bay?” I wanted so badly to say, “Of course! The Bay is an entirely different place because of the work of Word Made Flesh.” But it had been particularly discouraging lately. Several of our youth skipped school, I physically broke up a fight, the girls in our program were staying out late in the street, children were still being abused and worked like slaves even after long discussions with caregivers, another sexual abuse case, a hungry family did not take an opportunity to work and earn money, our youth still struggle with lying and stealing, and the list could go on. In a culture driven by results, success, and accomplishment sometimes it is hard to live by the values of a kingdom in which success cannot always be quantified in this life, or where success may look very different from what the world perceives as successful. I want to be successful, I want to see results in this life, but as my pastor said recently “Jesus said, ‘Well done good and faithful (not successful) servant.’” So the better question is, “Have I been faithful?” Faithful to forgive the one who continues to steal from us, faithful to love the youth that isn’t trying, faithful to continue to encourage those who are wasting opportunity, faithful to speak up for those who are oppressed, faithful to care for the widows and orphans, faithful to challenge those who are living for things that don’t matter, faithful to seek first the kingdom, faithful to not become weary even when I don’t see results, and faithful to live a life worthy of the calling I have received.
I am challenged by the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11. I would love to be the one who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. But perhaps I will be the one who is tortured, faces jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. Or maybe I will be put to death by stoning, be sawn in two; or killed by the sword. Maybe I will be called to go about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated. One group was able to see their success in this life, and the other did not see the success until the next life, but both were faithful. I don’t think we get to choose whether we are the ones who see success in this life, or only in the next, but I pray that whatever path I am called to walk, one day I will hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”