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Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Pulpit - Part I

And I am going to keep that celebration going because I know how it’s going to turn out. Through your faithful prayers and the generous response of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, everything he wants to do in and through me will be done. I can hardly wait to continue on my course. I don’t expect to be embarrassed in the least. On the contrary, everything happening to me in this jail only serves to make Christ more accurately known, regardless of whether I live or die. They didn’t shut me up; they gave me a pulpit! Alive, I’m Christ’s messenger; dead, I’m his bounty. Life versus even more life! I can’t lose. (Philippians 1:19-21)

Knowing how life will turn out is often an elusive thing for most of us – we fear the worst, hope for the best, and take whatever comes our way – almost living with fatalist mentality. Others drive so hard that life almost passes them by without any notice – all in the pursuit of some title, advantage, gain. Paul had learned to be content in the situations of life that he found himself in – present situation included. He’s imprisoned for preaching the gospel of Christ and finds that there are mixed groups of folks on the outside of the prison walls – some carrying on his work with the true message of Christ being preached; others with selfish motives of gain or status preaching the message with mixed or impure motive. Regardless, he finds himself faithful to the calling on his life, celebrating the fact that the gospel is being preached, and resting assured that he will again enjoy the freedom of release from his present circumstances.

He had learned to make use of his present circumstances. It is a joyous thing to view our circumstances from the vantage point of “I can hardly wait to see how God will be glorified in and through this opportunity!” versus the crisis point of “When am I getting out of this mess?” The amazing thing Paul had learned was contentment – he had learned to rest secure in the circumstances of his life because his heart had made a shift from control to trust.

Contentment is a state of being satisfied, free from cares or concerns. Most of us seldom reach this point in our lives because we are always looking for something more – the next big revelation, the next big opportunity, the next big something. With this type of focus in life, we often miss the very blessing of the moment that Christ has so graciously prepared for us. We overlook the purpose of the moment in pursuit of the promise of the future.

Paul rested in the assurance that everything Christ wanted to do in and through him would ultimately be done. He had come to the internal peace of mind and heart that allowed him to trust God in the midst of trying circumstances. He never lost the desire to continue on in his missionary journeys, but he did not chafe against the value of the present moment which involved his imprisonment.

He rested in the fact that everything a believer goes through in his daily walk is for the purpose of making Christ known to the world in just a little bit of a different way than he was known through the life of that believer yesterday. He rested in the assurance that God brings good out of chaos, blessing out of burden, and greatness out of abasement. Tomorrow, we will continue to look a little deeper at how God uses contentment as a tool to minister to a hurting world around us.