EarthBasic. Take care. Bless many.
Read |Philippians 3: 10 - 11|
Last year I signed up to run a 5k in one of New York City’s popular parks. I arrived early to drop off my bags, collect and dress in my bib and settle in at the appropriate starting point. I stood in place, listening to my prepared playlist and watching the jumbo clock countdown to the final 5 minutes before the start of the race.
It was then that one of the coordinators assumed his position at the head of the pack and on the megaphone made some celebratory remarks and tended to some housekeeping items, one of them being a reminder that there were in fact two races happening. There was a 5k and 10k, and he wanted to ensure that we were in the right lane so that our effort would not be spent in vain. He then made hand gestures to emphasize his most important point: “This lane is for the 10k [pointing to the lane in which I had been waiting] and that lane is for the 5k [pointing to the lane a few meters to the west of my actual position]. Remember, if you run in the wrong lane your time won’t count.”
My equilibrium disturbed, I scrambled under the tape that divided the races and maneuvered my way through the crowd until I eked out a place in the right race. I ran and completed that race. But, it wasn’t lost on me that God was also speaking through the natural to offer me redirection--a caution even--to be sure that in all my striving I press towards the right mark.
Paul, in his letter to the Philippians wants to ensure that his spiritual children understand this as well. In the third chapter of this text he juxtaposes two positions, through the lens of his own life, in order to remind his children to run the right race. First, he presents an illustration of his qualifications according to the flesh: “circumcised the eighth day; of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; regarding the law, a Pharisee; regarding the righteousness that is in the law; blameless.” (Philippians 3: 5 - 6, CSB). He follows this presentation with the confession, “Because of him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them as dung, so that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ.” (Philippians 3: 8 - 9, CSB).
Paul gives an account of his life before and in Christ. His life before Christ was built on the empty promise afforded to natural heirs and the fading glory of worldly victories and trophies. However, in Christ he comes to rightly see the old way as folly--striving in the wrong direction. In Christ he comes to behold the true upward call, which is to know him, the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings with the confident expectation that He will attain to the hope of glory with God in the end. (Philippians 3: 14 & 10- 11, respectively). This is the right race. This is the race with an end that will not disappoint. This is the race that we run by His Spirit. This is the race that results in our entire lives--body, mind and spirit--being offered up as a living sacrifice. (Romans 12: 1). This is the race where the peculiar reward is to have supernatural strength imparted as we go--strength imparted because we rely on Jesus Christ. Each step we take on this track is a plea for His help, which He will never deny us.
This is our call, sisters. But, how often do we find ourselves standing in the wrong lane? How often do we find ourselves polishing our trophies? Polishing our reputations; polishing our degrees; polishing our accomplishments so they not only stand tall, but sparkle. How often do we expend our limited resources acquiring more. More accolades. More personal glory. More stuff. This is the wrong race. This is the race whose end disappoints. This is the race we run in our own strength. This is the race that results in our entire lives--body, mind and spirit--being offered up as fuel that feeds the tyranny of our flesh. (Galatians 5: 19 - 21). This is the race where supernatural power is denied and the strength we once had is depleted. Each step we take on this track a seed that bears the fruit of weariness and frustration. And this weariness is experienced in the body that God loves.
But somewhere it is written, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11: 28 - 30, CSB). Beloved, there remains a rest for us in Him. There remains a rest that we can experience in the body that God loves.
Carolyn Sinclair McCalla is a daughter of God, with a passion for encouraging women to embrace the fullness of God's love for them in Jesus Christ. She leads the Be-Held Community: a group of women seeking, living and being transformed by the truth of God’s Word together.