June 28, 2016

Pressing On

This morning, as soon as my eyes opened, I was thinking that I don’t want to do Tuesday. No reason, just one of those moods of feeling tired of routine, tired of daily chores, even tired of being exhorted by God. I had no enthusiasm for anything. I’d had eight hours of sleep, and am finally feeling well physically, but this was what some people call a funk.

However, God has an uncanny way of putting what I need to hear in the devotional material for the day when I need to hear it. This is what He said to me through the Apostle Paul:

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12–14)

The “this” that Paul had not already attained was related to becoming mature Christian who could count all things as loss in order that he might be found in Christ, and that he would experience Him, the power of His resurrection, the sharing in His suffering, and be like Him in His death.

These verses have always puzzled me, but I’m beginning to understand from something Jesus said right before He died: “Not my will but Thine be done.” Jesus yielded all to His Father. That level of submission took Him to Calvary where He died.

Paul wanted that same submission to God. This was his goal. He knew that no one reached the uttermost call of God without that same submission, whether it led to physical death or not. He wanted to be totally willing to do whatever God wanted. This is the meaning of dying to myself.

Now I feel foolish. My daily routine asks the smallest of sacrifices. God likely will not be sending me to a cross or even into stormy weather. Yielding my will today is far from what this is like for a missionary in a country that hates Christians, or even a pastor in this country whose church is demanding his resignation for petty reasons. I’m only looking at chores that are not as much fun as leisure — and I’m grousing?

The other side of my attitude is about personal ambition. Once I had lots of it. Now God calls me to intercessory prayer. It is a largely hidden ministry. I’m mostly alone and often misunderstood in a world more interested in personal comfort than person holiness. People seldom want answers to the kinds of prayers that I pray.

Yet I realize I am no different. Rather than exert myself to serve God even in prayer, this morning I didn’t want to do anything. Surely this reveals that sometimes I need someone interceding for me!

Chambers says I’m not to choose what Christian work I do, only that I listen to God and obey what He says. No excuses. No complaining. If I feel the grip of God, I cannot back off and do what I feel like doing. I also must remember that I’m not special, just a sinner saved by grace. Like Paul, I have been given one thing to do.

For all of this, I’m to be like Jesus in His death, and I’m not there yet.

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