Philippians 1: 12-21
12 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters,that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.
15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.
Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.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.
Chained, empty, and trapped in prison. Paul has given his sorrows, his hopes, and his own pain up to Christ. He had rejoiced in this situation in which escape was not seen. Writing to other believers explaining that in his pain God’s word is being shared to the world. He had found joy? No matter if he continued to live or die, he lived in Christ.
Can I live this way?
Do I give up my dreams? Do I give up my hopes? Do I let go of the nagging feeling that tugs to fulfill a goal?
This pull at times is like an anchor that draws me deeper into the darkness of the sea where the light is splintered. My selfish desires will often explain the pull as God’s call, yet the emptiness that follows causes unanswered questions.
Is this the call of the Lord and how will I know?
The litmus test comes when we release the clinging rope from our arms that draws us to the goal. Clear our minds. Sit still. Read the Word. Listen.
Answers will come. Then we will know what path God wants us to take. Unfortunately, our path may be to a prison, an unexpected purging, a cleansing of worldly things and people. His whispers may be to bask in what He has already given us and remain in the moment, or to take care of the blessings by filling them with His love.
Sacrificing all the desires that haunt our hearts and laying them down at Christ’s feet is Paul’s example. Honoring Him and proving our faithfulness. Giving and humbling with rejoicing. Even through the pain, sorrow, confusion, or restlessness clings, joy will wash us clean if Christ is in us.
Psalm 51: 8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
As I allow God to show me necessary sacrifices, I stay close to His words. I slow down my life and hear His voice. His words whisper, “Dear one, you are chasing something that will not lead you to me. No matter what you rationalize as answer to your emptiness, you will not find me.”
Our true filling comes when we offer up each desire as a perfect sacrifice to our amazing Lord. In turn, He will be pleased and say, “You are my beloved and faithful servant. I will take care of you and never forsake you.”
Romans 12: 1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.