The Return

Post FUI Update 

I’ve been thinking a lot about success since I’ve come home. I’ve had too much time to compare this FUI experience to that of three years ago, too much time to compare myself to how other staff interacted with students and in some cases it’s lead me down some roads I never wanted to travel. In general I think of my FUI experience in terms of successes or failure. I was a good process group leader or I was a bad one, I did well at my site or I did poorly, or I was an excellent housemate or I was a terrible one. With all these definitions of my project it’s been difficult to say what I’ve learned because I’ve been so busy tried to cram my experiences into a “success” or “failure” category.

But perhaps my experiences were just that – experiences. When I think it about it now, it makes a lot of sense. In the second week that I was in Fresno, my new small camera that my mom had purchases for me for graduation was stolen. I loved that little camera because it was something that my mom worked hard to get, I had wanted for a long time to be able to carry around with me (because my giant Nikon takes great pictures but isn’t portable), and was my favorite color (an awesome bonus). But when it was stolen one of the million emotions I went through was being forced to experience this project instead of just observing it.

I have been known to constantly observe life – even when I’m not trying to. It is the artist in me. I not only love photography but I also love writing. But both these forms of art can force me into an observation world, when I should be experiencing life instead.

I liken FUI to centering prayer. For those who don’t know anything about it, it is basically emptying your mind. While it sounds a little mystic the purpose is to step out of our minds because we can spend so much time in them. But the reason I compare FUI to centering prayer is you can’t judge centering prayer. It is not the type of prayer that was either good or bad – but it is something you do. And over time you see results. In many ways my time in Fresno cannot be described as good or bad and over time I will see the reason I spent the whole summer there.

Then I remember the book Theirs is the Kingdom.

“What went wrong? Why did we so miserably fail when our motives, our mission, our plans were all of high quality? Did we not listen carefully enough to God’s Spirit?

Behind my questioning is the subtle heresy that God will prosper any endeavor that is done according to his will. The corollary is that whatever fails was done somehow contrary to his intentions. The error is in the assumption that perfect communion with God assures flawless performance of his will. But neither perfect communion nor flawless performance is possible for human beings.

Success, I’ve learned, has little to do with the performance of God’s will. Sometimes we fail because of our own stupidity or shortsightedness, and we must learn lessons from our mistakes. Sometimes we fail because of someone else’s failure, or because there was too much rain or too little rain. In these cases, there are no corrective lessons to be learned.

Success is not an automatic consequence of obedience. “A righteous man falls seven times and rises again” (Proverbs 24:16).

We have a dependable God who made a trustworthy commitment that no matter what happens – success or failure – he will use it for our ultimate good.”