I was thinking about the following Scripture this morning.
So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Philippians 2.12-13 NASB
At first my intentions this morning were to clean a house. The Spirit began to move in my heart and mind about writing, and this passage arrived in my mind. My memoir was the context of the thoughts, and as the espresso shots I consumed began to take effect in my central nervous system a a barrage of thoughts cascaded into my cognitive avenues.
I’ve never been paid to write. The book review I did for Wineskins magazine years ago didn’t put a penny in my pocket. I’ve grown as a writer since then, so I’m not sure the effort expended to write that review deserved compensation. I’m at peace with that. This is the first time I’ve entertained the thought of being paid for that review.
I get paid to clean houses, and that I should because that’s how I earn a living. A workman should be paid for the labor he or she does, and I’ve never really worked to be a writer. I’ll always be a writer whether or not I get paid. There are those things in our lives we’d do paid or not paid. If you only do things because of financial compensation then you will be miserable. I’ve been there and done that. It’s a terrible place to be, so before you decide to agree to do something for money weigh the pros and cons of that decision. If the only pro is the amount of money then say no. The wise man who built his house on the rock knows this truth. There are too many people out there who are driven by the all mighty dollar, and if it’s money they want then money they will get, but that’s all they will get. Guess what? When they are dead and buried the amount of money they accumulated won’t matter. My friend Ty Osman would be the first to tell you that. He made hundreds of millions of dollars, but that’s not what we remembered him for. We remembered him for his devotion to Jesus Christ, his family and others. There is no greater legacy. We worshiped the One at his Celebration of Life because it was Jesus Christ who worked through Ty to bless countless human beings. Ty’s work is outlasting him, and that’s because he sought first His kingdom and His righteousness.
I’ve written about it a plethora of times, but Romans 8 is one of my favorite sections of Romans. The part about the Spirit interceding for us with groans that words cannot express is especially one I meditate on weekly. Christianity does not just have an intellectual aspect to it. There is a mystery to our faith that cannot be explained with words. God can get our attention through a thousand mediums. He is all-powerful. He doesn’t wield that power like a dictator because He is Love, but I think that’s one important thing to think about as we work out our salvation with fear and trembling. That doesn’t mean we shake in our shoes with trepidation because there are many verses in the Bible that are explicit about not being afraid. Fear is respect. When I was a child I feared by dad, not because he was more powerful than me, but because I believed in the inerrancy of Scripture that told me to respect my father. I still believe that. The same goes for my mom. I actually have spiritual mothers, fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers whom I respect the same way.
Satan is a powerful and cunning being. He will use anything and anyone to take your eyes off Jesus. He will use his vast network of powerful spiritual beings and human beings to manipulate and leverage his agenda of destruction to bring you down. He may not know who you are, but someone on his team knows, and they work 24/7 to twist that knife in your back.
Change happens slowly dear one. Yes it can happen fast, but I think most of the time it happens the way a crock pot cooks a roast. There are seasons that are harder than others. It seems some people have more suffering than others. It seems there are people who are angrier than other people. Suffering is a hard pill to swallow for anyone, and all 7 billion of us on the planet are collectively suffering due to COVID-19. Satan is behind all suffering. I don’t know why God allows suffering to continue, but I know it draws me closer to Him. That’s the weirdest thing about being a Christian. That Jesus had to suffer in Jerusalem like he did is the most ludicrous aspect of my faith, but I believe it with my whole heart because I believe the Father. Pastor Kevin reminded us on Sunday to go to the cross. None of us seeks out suffering. That’s not what Kevin was saying. Jesus himself asked the Father if there was any other way. There wasn’t, and there isn’t, so if a sinless man had to go through what he went through then guess what? The Bible is clear. We will suffer. We are suffering. We suffer because we know one day we won’t. Unbelievers don’t have that hope. Maybe it crosses their mind that when they die they won’t suffer, but I for one know that like Jesus I won’t be dead forever.
We all need hope. Hope is a confident expectation. It’s not a “Oh I hope I get into med school.” It’s a confident expectation that our Father is in control, and that because of His love we have everything we need and want.
Never forget that.