There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears. Phil 1:6 (MSG)
On a sunny Sunday afternoon, only a handful of years ago (seriously) my Youth group gathered at a local park for lunch after church. The Youth pastors from a church in Dubbo, just an hour or two away from the town I grew up in (Mudgee), had joined us for the day to encourage us and build friendships between the two groups. We did an exercise around the picnic tables where one by one we said positive things over each other. When it got to my turn, everyone said lovely things (phew!) But one of the Youth Pastors from the other church gave me this scripture in Phil 1:6 saying she really believed it was a word from God for me. I was 15 at the time, I’d been through some challenges, and the scripture really spoke to me.
All these (few) years later, that verse still speaks to my life.
Through anonymous seasons, dark times, the slow years of hard work and the painful years of unrealised dreams, the long nights of crying babies and vomiting kids, the moments of correction and mistakes exposed, the beautiful days of sunshine and rest… this verse reminds me that faith is not a destination. God's great work is not a place we arrive at, it's something we live into every day until we pass from this life and into the next.
God never abandons us to nothingness. No matter what mistakes or hardships we face today, there is always the hope of tomorrow.
God doesn’t deal in do-overs. He’s not “wiping our slate clean” every time we face something damaging – he’s redeeming those things.
When Jesus was nailed to the cross, those nails tore his hands apart. Not to mention his feet. It wasn’t a nice little neat and clean hole in the centre of his hands. The nail was lodged in-between his wrist bones and hammered in without thought of whether the wound was clean or not – it was a form of torture. The wound would have been horrific. His skin would have been torn free of his flesh, ragged and shredded.
When he rose from the dead and appeared to the disciples, he showed Thomas his scars.
Hang on… the guy who just rose from the dead, couldn’t do away with his own scars? He had authority over death, but not his skin and body?
Jesus rose with his scars intact. He kept them. They became a part of him. What had been his great pain was drawn so deeply into the love and grace of God that they became something he showed to others to bring them hope.
God doesn’t give you a second chance. Our lives are not by chance, and there is no tally of his grace. There is redemption. And that is a work he loves to do, and will continue to complete until the work is done. What is painful today can in time become a mark of great hope. A reminder of what was and the journey you took to be where you are now.
And for the things we love doing and have success in, the challenge this verse presents is to keep growing and learning. We should never settle into our success to the point where it becomes a hindrance for moving forward.
You are a masterpiece already but also in the redeeming…
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