In this last semester of residency, Dusty and I have been seeking God's direction and wisdom in discerning what's next! It is exciting but also a bit scary. I often joke, "it's a good thing God is in control and not me!" And this is true. Life can hit you hard when you put the weight of making important decisions on yourself. I am confident God will establish my steps and the work of my hands (Proverbs 16:9, Psalm 90:17). The last several weeks have been a whirlwind of traveling, meeting new people, building new relationships, and interviewing with several different churches God has brought across our path. All this while raising 2 toddlers and 2 teenagers! (which is honestly a joy and privilege). We have been really trying to keep our bearings, but then as life goes - last week Dusty and Jahnabell caught the flu! It was rough to say the least, and then to top it off Dusty got food poisoning right as she was recovering. Suddenly we found ourselves realizing that we really couldn't do it on our own. We needed the peace of God that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7). We needed to rest in the fact that God has and will determine the boundaries of our dwelling place (Acts 17:26).
As we began settling into normal rhythms this week, both staff meetings I attended in the residency reminded me of the most important part of my job: knowing my Savior. What's crazy is that I normally drift toward apathy; I don't naturally want to know my Savior. I don't desire to know Jesus until he opens my eyes, my heart, and my mind to the "great peace" that comes from knowing him (Psalm 119:165). Paul takes it to another level in Philippians when he says:
"I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord" (Philippians 3:7).
I am still trying to wrap my mind around what this means. I believe much of the Christian walk is wrestling with what scripture says and how it applies to our lives. According to pastor Ross Lester, the phrase "In Him" occurs 37 times in the letters Paul wrote to the New Testament churches. This is plain crazy when you consider how important something is when it's repeated twice or even three times, but Paul thought it important to repeat 37 times! I believe this is because knowing who created us and how much he loves us is indeed an awe-inspiring endeavor. I can know God because he granted me eternal life by sacrificing his only son and making a tangible way for me to know him. Paul continues in this passage by describing one of the craziest reasons why "knowing him" is his highest aim!
"...that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead." Philippians 3:10-11
Sharing in his suffering means that I also share in his resurrection. How cool is that? But the every-day struggle is how do I know Christ (and the power of his resurrection)? How do I do this when life is stressful? When life is one-thing-after-another busy and many times I feel there isn't time to read about God or talk to him? But I believe this is why Paul calls Christians to "press on." Paul is hyper-aware of his inability to secure his own salvation, and this knowledge produces a passion for pursuing the living God.
"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
This is what I want for all of us. This is what I want for my kiddos, my wife, and my brothers and my sisters: that they would know Christ and the power of his resurrection! That "in him" our joy would be made complete. Let us press on in knowing our Creator. Let us make this salvation our own, because Jesus has made us his own (Philippians 3:13).
"Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble." Psalm 119:165