Two Extremes that can Make or Break You

The law of contrast is so egregiously written that, in most cases, we find ourselves skewed towards one of the two sides of the coin. So when you move around, you will find some in a baby shower or bridal party, while others are in the sick bay or on the funeral train. When some are crowned conquerors, others go through the shock triggered by their final warning before being rendered jobless.

Life has no room for mediocrity. Life does not have time for the average. I think this is why the message to the Laodicean Church is quite sobering. What is the message to the Angel of the Laodicean Church? ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God:

“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.  So then, because you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.” {Revelation 3:14-16}

God has no time for people who cannot make a decided move. The undecided are failures in the yardstick of God. Maybe, James Russell had it best put in his hymn, ‘Once to Every Man and Nation’:

“Once to every man and nation, comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth with falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, some great decision, offering each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever, ’twixt that darkness and that light.”

James Russell Lowell, 1845,(1819-1891)

If you are yet to get the subject matter, I am talking about success and failure. The world does not have time for the lukewarm. The only consulted people are either those who have made it or those who have conspicuously failed. The failures and the successful people have important lessons to those who want to take some direction.

There is danger unique to those in the pinnacle of success or languishing in pains and pangs of disconsolation. Knowing how to handle success or failure makes a difference in our growth on all fronts. Your journey towards academic, spiritual, social, or marital success will be influenced by how you handle these two extremes that may interpose in the meantime.

Success
Success is a good thing. A reasonable degree of excellence is everyone’s desire. Every student would want to graduate magna cum laude at the top of their classes. Every employee would want to be crowned the employee of the year. All men who decide to pursue a damsel would want to emerge the winner. So after putting necessary competence and acquiring space on the glorious summit, what next?

The valediction of the rich fool can well represent the behavior of many after getting their hands on the target. In like manner, we more often than not seem to be saying, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.”
And like him, we are caught unawares in the dark night of sorrow when our souls are required of us, and we are not ready. So success ends up being a snare and leading to premature death.

This is especially because many interpret situations of apparent success as an invitation to relax and feel good. So as a man, you go through the inconvenience of false humility and win a lady’s heart, then you want to keep, with your rough and immodest self, the same woman you won with niceties and courtesy. I am of the school of thought that believes that marriage and relationships are those elections that need campaigns even after winning the election, or you risk a vote of no confidence. Ask the athletes at a higher level, and you will be surprised to hear that it is more demanding remaining at the top than getting to the top. It needs discipline getting to the top, but it needs twice as much to remain at the top. Success in the path of rectitude always often eludes people who spend a lot of time celebrating their victory of the first temptation. Real men of faith see apparent growth from one level to another as an invitation to be more studious and prayerful.

The danger of success is presumptive sufficiency. We get deluded and puffed up, and we become megalomaniacs. So when the winds of strife unique to those at the top come, we are found with the muscle of the former levels we have conquered, and we fail terribly, going to the same place we were in before.

I can’t find a better way to summarise this than in the words of Ellen white:

No one can stand upon a lofty height without danger. As the tempest that leaves unharmed the flower of the valley uproots the tree upon the mountaintop, so do fierce temptations that leave untouched the lowly in life assail those who stand in the world’s high places of success and honor.

—Ellen White, Education. P 51.

Failure
Failure is uncomfortable. No one wants to be the one writing another book of lamentation all the time. We would want to be quoted on significant occasions and recognized with something covered with serendipity. But being on the lower percentile all the time is something we would want to push to the neighbor’s compound.

Unfortunately, the painful fact that hit us so hard is that we cannot all get everything that we need all the time. For instance, ten men could be pursuing one dime piece, but only one can succeed, as the rest are forced to settle for what is there or wait for other bales. With seven presidential candidates, six people are destined for disappointment. So sometimes, failure is inevitable because one person can only lift the trophy at a time. Also, the resources available cannot allow all of us to be dynasties. Whereas a few will be having a good time, some of us may be forced to settle for a little less than we desire. So failure will come in one way or the other.

For many, failure in itself does not destroy them but how they respond to it. Some end up having a failed attitude and worldview. They lie down and die. They are doubtful that anything good can come out of them and conclude that they could be more successful in death. This is often exacerbated by misleading theological positions, which tend to assume that the dead are not dead. So in sadness and surrender, they consent to suicidal thoughts in the hope that they could gain after death, what they failed to acquire in this side eternity. Painfully this is a recipe for disaster and eternal loss, for this selfsame people will be confronted by the second resurrection in the multitude of what the Bible calls Gog and Gog; candidates of eternal doom!

We must change our view of failure. I am not in any way going to lie that failure is a good thing. I myself am struggling to handle failure. So I am inviting you to this side of never giving up. Instead, trying to use our failures as opportunities to try again and be a little better than we were before. If you take your time to study the history of men and women who have graced our timelines, you will not find stories of successful people but overcomers. They withstood some terrible challenge or failure, which left them more disciplined and self distrusting. They had to be divested of all elements of disorder of grandeur and made to know that superhuman achievements require superhuman effort.

Failure is an invitation to try again. It means we are not ready to be trusted with higher responsibilities, which we can achieve by constant repetition and training. Even patriarchs and prophets had to wait for some time to get their prayers answered. It is to our benefit that we pass through the furnace on our way to the palace, for then we will understand the gravity of a little stupidity.

The words of Tozer will be the best way to summarise this aspect of failure:

It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until he has hurt him deeply.” God actually raises storms of conflict in relationships at times to accomplish that deeper work in our character. We cannot love our enemies in our own strength. This is graduate-level grace. Are you willing to enter this school? Are you willing to take the test? If you pass, you can expect to be elevated to a new level in the Kingdom. For He brings us through these tests as preparation for greater use in the Kingdom. You must pass the test first.”

― Aiden Wilson Tozer.

How you handle success or failure will influence your destiny.

12 thoughts on “Two Extremes that can Make or Break You

  1. “So when the winds of strife unique to those at the top come, we are found with the muscle of the former levels we have conquered, and we fail terribly, going to the same place we were in before.” This statement is deeep. Thank you.
    And it is true that until the Master has tried your vessel in fire, you will never come forth as pure gold,👏
    Blessed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. WOW! It is true that failure doesn’t mean you should give up and success doesn’t mean you should sit back and relax. ” success needs double energy to maintain the position” 🤝

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I nice piece of encouragement ,I have learnt something from this that I never knew ,may our good God keep you and give you more wisdom to continue encouraging some of us

    Liked by 1 person

  3. For you to be at the top you have to be tested but once you pass then be ready for more tests tougher than the previous one. And that is how the kingdom journey is structured one pass of a temptation opens a greater way for another terrible one but no temptation left unconquered opens another step of faith until you conquer then you will move from grace to grace and faith to faith.

    Liked by 1 person

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