Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi is an interesting read. He’s nearing the end of his life and he’s in jail in Rome. There are all sorts of discussions out there about “how do you want to be remembered?” or “at the end what will you say was most important to you?” These are Paul’s last recorded words that we have. And while the letter as a whole is fascinating it’s what he says at the end that really stands out to me.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Over the years I’ve struggled with his statements about being content. Seriously, Paul, couldn’t you have given us a bit more info about what you mean when you say you are content?
It happens to all of us. Yep, you and me, and anyone else who is a Christian. When things are going well in our lives, we have everything figured out. Life is smooth ride and all we need to do is sit back and take it all in. No need to wonder how we got there or if the God of the universe might have had something to do with it. We have everything under control.
We say, “Jesus, I’ll drive.”
Then the storm comes.
Have you ever been bad at something? Like, truly, unequivocally terrible?
I cannot skate. Not roller skate. Not ice skate. Not roller blade or skateboard. Heck, I can barely ride a bike. Maybe it has something to do with growing really tall really fast as a kid. My center of gravity never quite figured out where to land. Or maybe because even though they say you can’t walk until you crawl, I skipped right over the “on all fours” stage and stood straight up. I hear that jacks up your balance.
Whatever the reason, I found all those elementary school skate nights and birthday parties at once horrifying and lonely. I’d shove off each wall hoping I’d launched myself with enough force to bump safely into the other side, having the neither the ability to steer nor stop. Or start, for that matter. If I ran out of steam mid-rink, I would have to wait for a kind soul, usually someone’s mom, to give me a tow to the wall or perhaps all the way back to the snack bar where I would sit in a booth and daydream until the party was over.
My last time ever on skates ended with, what I imagined, was me almost slicing a small child in half. It was a youth group ice skate night, I think, and this tiny little girl had been practicing her serious figuring skating skills right in the middle of free skate. It was legitimate practice. She was wearing the tights and the little skirt and was spinning, spinning, spinning. Full-on Nancy Kerrigan.
It was 3am. I was more than sleep deprived; I was going a little bit crazy. Jacob, my new baby boy, was less than a week old, and he was hungry. His screams pierced the darkness and pierced this new mama’s heart. The pediatrician’s office had called that afternoon to say we needed to supplement his […]
On April 7, 1994, decades and even centuries of ethnic violence, inflamed by civil war, detonated genocide at a rate five times that of the Jewish holocaust in Nazi Germany. You all know the story. Africa’s most densely-populated country. Eight weeks. Upwards of 800,000 people brutally murdered on ethnic lines by neighbors, colleagues and militant mobs.
When the horror stopped, one in five Rwandans were dead — and nearly the entire remaining population carried the bloodguilt. The systematic use of rape as a weapon led to a steep spike in HIV rates, the number of child-headed households soared, and the economy and infrastructure were in ruins. If ever there was an entire nation suffering from trauma, it was this one.
In 2002, on the other side of the world, Rebecca “Becky” Byrd proudly received her school guidance counselor credentials. For more than a decade, she would invest her skills and her heart for kids in a high-poverty public high school in Washington State — and then she would transition to the sticky hugs and giggles and tears of a nearby elementary school. Becky loved her work with the kids, and esteemed her colleagues — but she began to have a hunger for … more.
It wasn’t more accomplishments or relationships or adventure, more money or pleasure that Becky was hungry for. It was more of God. More intimacy with Jesus, more of the life of the Spirit, more of the fruit of an active faith. And as her yearning grew, she began to hear God calling her to an extraordinary step.
To this day I still avoid it. For too many years grape jelly was associated with pain. As a child, and even well into my teen years, I would often wake up with excruciating pain in my legs. To this day, I am not sure what it really was, however, my mom would call them […]
Do you remember your first swimming pool experience? I suppose it may be a bit difficult today – it is December after all. But I remember. I had to have been 4 or 5. We were left for the weekend at some family friends that owned a real pool. Not the kind of pool we […]