I’m sure many of us have heard the term “gains and losses” when dealing with finances and numbers. A common term used when reviewing financial spending of a company. A similar principle is used when it comes to our own lives. There is a passage I’m always drawn to in Philippians 3 describing the issue of profit and losses in the context of life.
Paul writes about himself: “But whatever was to my profit, I now consider loss for the sake of Christ”. There had been a personal proudness for Paul to having been raised and trained in the religious ways of the times where his personal identity was linked and tied to his religion. Now it seemed none of that mattered. Following this he states: “I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done”. He came to a crossroads in his life where he realized the keeping of a religious appearance was no longer that important. For himself what had been “valuable” throughout his life was his status among the religious and society of his time. It provided his platform of identity and self-worth as a person. But now he states he considers all this “worthless.” Everything he took credit for and thought was important he now tosses out the window realizing something better, deeper, significant, powerful, personal had drawn him to a different place in his life… the reality of knowing Christ personally in the context of a relationship with Him.
Not a religion, not a set of rules, patterns or traditions but the personal relationship with the One who paid the ultimate price for each of us.
There is a “before” and an “after” in this writing and I ponder on the fact of this truth and reality for us today. For myself, am I driven by anything related a personal profit or gain? Do I profit from my position, finances, achievements and yes, even the following of religious patterns and traditions? These can become so much part of who we are in view of others. It builds a false self-worth that at any time can crumble leaving us empty and confused. For Paul it came down to this statement: “I want to know Christ – yes, the power of His resurrection!” Basically, he is saying that he wants to know and experience in his daily life the application of the power that raised Christ from the dead. This is profound! I ponder on this and what it means for my own life. It’s deep, personal, significant and I’m drawn to it. It means living a life of victory in Him and not in myself. It means allowing His reality to be present and real within me. We are celebrating Easter week, the fact Christ died personally for each of us and was raised three days later, sealing the purpose of His death on the cross. An act of profound love for each of us.
So here I am, in the hospital room, a day before my open-heart surgery, getting poked and running test in preperation for tomorrow. I ponder on the reality of the “before and after” of life itself. This heart surgery has two effects on me. One is that hopefully it fixes a physical problem I have carried for quite some time. Any surgery of this type comes with it dangers, risk and recovery but I’m hopeful it all goes well. The second effect is the reflection I’m doing on life itself, the gains and losses of life, the willingness to give up everything, what is valuable to me and what is valuable to God or reviewing what I’m really about. What I live for in my daily existence. As much as modern medicine is advanced and I have confidence in the medical skills of the team who will work on my heart tomorrow there is also the reality of something going wrong. This brings me to ponder of how I have lived up to today and how will I live after my surgery. What changes do I need to make? To what extent am I willing to lose everything in life for the sake of serving my Lord even more? And what exactly does this really mean? Is it material loss involved? Is it a physical price? Is it both? I ponder on what holds us back from making lifelong commitments that will set the pattern for what we live for. I believe everyone should ask themselves this question: What am I really about and what are my priorities in life? So many questions…
It is good to ponder on these questions of life, to take the time and process what all this entails. I believe these life experiences should move us to consider a deep evaluation of how we administrate our time, resources, skills and purpose while we are here on earth, for life can truly be short.
John Mott once wrote: Those who make history are those who submit to the One who orchestrates it.
I strongly believe God orchestrates and directs our paths, His Hand is so much behind all that happens in our lives, sometimes we understand them and sometimes we don’t, at times we see it and others we don’t. One thing is a fact, God is present today and He invites each of us to experience the reality of His fullness in us to make history for His name, but there is a key element to make this happen… submitting to the orchestration of our lives in His Hands.
“We then look for what lays ahead forgetting what is behind!” -- Paul