Definition: Success sometimes means Having a Future.
Ten men became a group, friends, you might say, due to a shared death sentence.
Leprosy. In the Bible times leprosy was a symbol of sin. The result of disobedience to God’s requirements.
Day after day they scrounged for food and shelter, always outside the boundaries of society. Conversation focused on the trivial and the absurd.
Trivial details about found food in unexpected places and ways. Small victories were magnified with longing and imagination.
“Remember when we found that pack that had fallen off a donkey?”
“Wow! We were so full that we could hardly move for a week.”
“What kind of bread was that? Manna?”
“No. Actually, it was rather old. And dry. And moldy. But we ate it anyway! And were we full!”
“And the time that bird dropped its meal right near us. Kinda like with Elijah!”
“Only our bird was very unhappy when we scooped up his food!”
From a distance they watched the events surrounding Jesus. Over and over again they saw sick people healed, rising from stretchers to run and jump and cavort like children.
Blind could see, lame could walk.
“Maybe He could cure us,” one of them suggested one day.
“Yeah, right!” the others chorused.
But doubt grew weaker as evidence piled up. And one day they purposed to get close enough to Him so their shouts of “Unclean!” could scare away the crowd.
The plan was soon put into action.
Slowly at first they approached the group gathered around their Target. Protests and insults rained down on them from the startled caravan. Then, they scattered like birds rising into the air to escape children rushing about in play.
Then, there was just One. He stood there looking at them with a little smile on His face. “What took you so long? I’ve been watching you men for days. What can I do for you?”
“If You will, You can heal us, make us clean!”
“I will. Be clean! Go show yourselves to the priests as the law requires.”
And as they turned to obey, their skin changed! They began to run toward the town! Shouting to each other as they flailed their arms and stripped off their dirty outer garments to see that their whole bodies had become clean!
Thoughts of family and friends and community and food and shelter – and acceptance – a return to normalcy flooded their minds as they careened toward their future. At last, now, they had a future!
The thought of that future seemed like success.
But one man stopped in this pell-mell race. Stopped and thought about the miracle that he found himself in. And the Man who had made it happen.
All the dreams he had had about his future were now possible. Not just possible, but coming true.
Success was in that miracle. How was he to respond to this new life? What about the One who had given him the cure – the One who had made a successful future possible?
He turned and ran away from the other nine men. Back toward the one Man.
Within touching distance of Jesus he knelt and said, “Thank you!” Though his heart was full, words just didn’t seem to come together to express his feelings adequately.
But Jesus understood, and smiled at him. And touched him. And sent him on his way, a changed man. Not just healed physically. Healed spiritually. A follower, a believer in the Messiah.
What does this have to do with Success?
This one man demonstrated the answer. His wealth was in the healing. His wealth was in his future. His wealth was in his thankfulness expressed to the One who cleansed him from his leprosy.
Only one leper returned to Jesus to give thanks. Kind of like a tithe on the miracle.
The other nine? They missed out on the bounty that was available in addition to the healing.
When we ask for success and do the work, the right response is to give thanks and recognition to the One Who makes it happen.
Success in our spiritual lives, success in our temporal lives, is in the response from Jesus, “I will. Go and do what My Law requires.”
What should I do with success?
This one healed, former-leper, shows us the answer: Recognize success as a gift from God. Give thanks to Him.
I’ve wondered if the one who returned to Jesus later found his former colleagues and shared his experience with Jesus after they were gone. Maybe he brought them to Jesus later.
Thoughts and comments are encouraged.