All weekend, the people with the microphones assured the conference audience that God wanted us to reach our potential. Based on the examples they gave, "reach our potential" was obvious code for "become your own success story." Of course, we were encouraged that our success would only happen in Him, by faith.
I watched their faces as the weekend progressed and the participants grappled with the hell of unrealized expectations. The young and inexperienced radiated fierce determination. The successful, knowing the thinness of the line between victory and failure, barely disguised their anxiety. On the faces of others, fear danced with discouragement. If all that God cares about is you being successful and yet all your dreams haven’t come true—what a huge failure you must be. What a huge failure God must be.
Who needs a God like that? Why would we worship a flawed, inept God like us?
What does God really say He wants? They asked Jesus, and he told the people. Sometimes he hid his answers in parables that struck most ears like riddles. But not this time. This time, His answer was clear: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind." "How do we do that?" the people asked Him.
In stories, in straight talk, in action, in grief and in joy, Jesus showed them: "Love each other, and when you love each other, you love God. When you forget yourself, your pride and ambition, and serve each other, you serve God."
Did you catch that? It sounds so simple, but it changes everything. With those words, God's freed us from ourselves. You want to reach your potential? Love God, love others, and you're there. God's highest goal for you--achieved! Now, exhale. Relax those shoulders. Unclench that jaw. From here on out, it's just loving, serving, living and walking with Him. He's made you free to grow with no more thought for yourself or your tomorrows than the lilies of the field have. Think of the possibilities. "And if He sets you free, you will be free indeed."