So, how was your week? Or, if you’re reading this in the evening, how was your day? Or here’s a bigger question: How’s your life going?
Many times we answer such queries with automatic, unthinking, unsatisfying replies like Fine, or Could have been better, or The usual.
If you do try to answer such a question honestly, how do you measure your answer? In the privacy and frankness of your own thoughts, how do you evaluate your day, your week, or your life? When you go to bed tonight, what will determine whether you’re thinking, ‘It’s been a good day’ or ‘I’m so glad today is over’?
And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. For everyone here, including the whole palace guard knows that I am in chains because of Christ. And because of my imprisonment, most of the believers here have gained confidence and boldly speak God’s message without fear.
In his letter to the church at Philippi, Paul models a vision I want to grow into. His life has not been easy; as he writes this letter, he’s sitting in jail. Yet he says, “Everything that has happened to me has helped to spread God’s message.”
I am so myopic. (I just had to use this word today, because it fits so perfectly what the Spirit has been showing me.) Myopic, literally, means short-sighted. If you suffer from myopia, you can only see things close to you, anything at a distance is only a blur.
But just look at the word for a minute: myopic. MY view. MY sight. MY vision. MY. MY. MY. Looking through eyes that are focused by me, my, mine, makes me able to see very little of God’s big goals and His long-range purpose for my days and my life. When I’m caught in this MY-opia, I can see only things close to ME.
If I think a day has gone horribly wrong, it’s usually because whatever has transpired that day has not met MY expectations, MY desires. How can I shift my focus from my own goals to God’s? How can I set my sights on God’s plan and His mission?
Paul has gained that perspective. Events in his new career as a missionary surely haven’t gone quite as he would have planned. Yet he looks at his life through a lens of faith that God uses everything to achieve His purpose (reminds me of Romans 8:28).
Paul writes, a few paragraphs later, For me, living means living for Christ (verse 21). His measures his life, not by the struggles and pain and disappointments on a personal level, but by whether or not Christ’s mission has moved forward.
Will I ever grow into such sight, Father? I want to see beyond my own little life, my own agenda, my own wishes and goals!
I read further in the chapter and find several antidotes, a few hints on lessening the myopia:
Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven … you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News … For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. We are in this struggle together.
First, live as citizens of heaven. I don’t know what that statement did to you, but it changed my focus immediately. Perhaps I’ll have to tape it to my mirror and read it aloud every day. It instantly rearranges my goals, gives me new perspective on what happens on a ME level today. I am the daughter of a King who has said He is going to achieve His purposes, no matter what. No matter what! Remember who are you, child of God!
Second, we stand with others in one spirit and one purpose, to fight together for the mission of Christ. Doesn’t this also lessen our clutching hold on our own small agenda and desires for our fleeting time here? We are part of the huge mission of Christ — reconciling the world to God!
Third, we have been given the privilege of suffering. Now, I admit, this is the hardest one for me. I don’t claim to understand this. Like most people, I have a knee-jerk reaction that wants to avoid suffering. Yet I am beginning to learn that suffering brings something deep and rich to faith that will not be found in any other place. I know I am only scratching the surface here, and it’s a profound secret that most of us have yet to discover. Sounds foolish to say, Bring on the suffering! But I have a suspicion that suffering will in turn bring me things I long for …
So, how was your week?
Scripture: Philippians 1:12-14, 21, 27, 29-30 (NLT)