This Week’s Passage and Memory Verse (in red): 20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.
(I am posting today instead of Thursday because of our travel schedule)
So this will be my last post of the year. You will not hear from me until 2012 because I will be visiting my daughter and son in law in India over Christmas. I chose this passage as my last passage to ponder for the year because it contains, for lack of a better term, my “life verses”. Some of you may remember that I preached on this passage about 3 years ago – it was the message that started off with me saying that I was going to die.
My dad died when he was 42. Both of my granddads died in their mid 50’s. Men die early in my family. When I was 30 I began praying that God would allow to live to be 50 so that I could influence my kids at least until they were out of high school. Now that I am 53 I feel a bit greedy wanting to hang around to influence my kid’s kids. So why does God keep me around? That is the question that this passage answers for me.
Paul is ready to die because he knows it means that he will be with the Lord. But he also knows that God may not be finished with him yet. That is where I find myself. I love the last 2 verses of this passage. It details Paul’s mission for the rest of his life. Essentially he says that as long as God leaves him here on this earth that his job will be to help others make progress in their faith and to find joy in knowing Christ. I think that is also why God allows me to linger among the living. Perhaps He wants to use me to help others in the same way.
That is one of the reasons that I started blogging a little more than a year ago. Not only did I know that I needed the discipline of pondering these passages and intentionally thinking them through, but I was also hoping this discipline might benefit others as well. I have found through my years of ministry that most folks have great intentions when it comes to regularly spending time in God’s Word but that more often than not those good intentions don’t go anywhere. So if you are still reading at this point I hope this exercise in pondering passages has helped you at least a little bit to make progress in your faith and has fueled your joy in knowing our Savior.
I’d love to hear from you if this year of pondering has been helpful. My plan is to take these next 2-3 weeks off and then start back in early January. In the meantime I hope you have an incredible Christmas as we celebrate the incarnation and that your joy in our Lord grows deeper and deeper as you ponder the staggering news that in Christ the Word became flesh and appeared among us.
I’m just sayin!’
Grace and Peace to you!