In life, we are always dealing with one of two components: what we can control and what we cannot control. On one hand, we are given so much freedom to make decisions everyday that influence both our immediate present as well as our future. We get to choose the clothes we wear, what food to eat, where to live, how we make a living, who/what to spend our time with, etc. etc. That is all within our control. We can prepare for events and desired outcomes with strategic plans of action. And we can feel good about the accomplishments we achieve.
But on the other hand, we will all inevitably have life experiences that are simply beyond our control. You know, like the way someone treated you or the job you didn’t get. Like the divorce you didn’t see coming, or the unexpected illness and/or loss of a loved one. Or the __________;(you can fill in the blank). The point is that tragedy can happen at any time.
Life is so fragile, which is why we feel more secure when we feel like we are in control of it. We tend to lose heart when unfortunate events occur, but feel good when our world is happy and everything is going as planned. Yet it’s just as common in both scenarios to forget what life is truly all about.
What Are You Living For?
The Apostle Paul gives us some powerful, thought-provoking insight as to what our focus in this life should be. First of all, let’s remember where Paul came from. Paul was a man of many accomplishments and was considered to be prosperous by worldly standards. He was a Pharisee of pure Israeli descent, granting him an automatic superior status. It's also worth mentioning that Paul was a man who once zealously persecuted Christians! Yet in Philippians 3:7 a drastic change of heart was revealed when he stated, “I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done.” Ironically, the same man who once persecuted Christ followers was later imprisoned and facing execution for hisown Christian faith! It was at that time that he made the bold statement, “To live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). Paul was practically on his deathbed and yet this is the message he chose to convey to the church!
What caused him to say this? What happened was Paul had a personal, life-changing encounter with God. His old life was gone, and his new life began! Everything about it changed. His motives changed. His ambitions changed. His values changed. He realized that his life wasn’t his own and that the only cause truly worth living for was Christ. Even the thought of death didn’t faze him, because Paul knew he would gain a heavenly home, closer to Christ than he could ever accomplish on earth.
Paul wasn’t caught up with what he could or couldn’t control. He simply wanted to live a life committed to Christ and to help others do the same. He was so kingdom- minded that everything he experienced was viewed from a kingdom perspective. What a powerful way to live!
Today, my prayer is that God will continue to change our hearts and open our eyes so that we can see Him in the midst of whatever we are going through. I pray that we are able to filter through our thoughts and emotions with the truth from His Word. And I pray that we would be as determined as Paul to remain focused on Christ, fully surrendered to His will.