Where the world comes to study the Bible

Scratch the Surface of Success

God often allows the ungodly to amass great wealth—to their destruction. But if you are one with whom God is dealing and if you put the pursuit of riches (or anything else) before service to Christ, God may take away those riches (and other things) until you turn to Him.

Some years ago Donald Grey Barnhouse was counseling a young woman on the sidewalk in front of Tenth Presbyterian Church following an evening service. She said she was a Christian and that she wanted to follow Christ. But she wanted to be famous too. She wanted to pursue a stage career in New York. “After I have made it in the theater, I’ll follow Christ completely,” she said. Barnhouse took a key out of his pocket and scratched a mark on a postal box standing on the corner. “That is what God will let you do,” he said. “God will let you scratch the surface of success. He will let you get close enough to the top to know what it is, but He will never let you have it, because He will never let one of His children have anything rather than Himself.”

Years later he met the girl again, and she confessed that this had indeed been her life story. She had dabbled in the stage. Once her picture had been in a national magazine. But she had never quite made it. She told Barnhouse, “I can’t tell you how many times in my discouragement I have closed my eyes and seen you scratching on that postal box with your key. God let me scratch the edges, but He gave me nothing in place of Himself.”

Christ’s Call To Discipleship, J. M. Boice, Moody, 1986, p. 154