In this short, autobiographical snippet, Paul recaps his little life and places it within the big story of God’s activity. He recounts his credentials and religious heritage, then mentions his need for reevaluation of all in light of “knowing Christ.” He goes on to state his present intention. Paul’s “knowing Christ” has reoriented his entire perspective on life, creating new priorities for his life’s direction: how he chooses to expend his energy and for Whom he will ”press on toward the goal.”
Rachel Beckwith had a goal that reoriented her perspective. At church she learned about the desperate need for clean water in other countries. Shocked that children her age did not drink clean water, Rachel decided to raise three hundred dollars for water wells in Africa. She canceled her ninth birthday party and urged her family and friends to contribute nine dollars each to the project. She set up a web page to make it easier to contribute. It disappointed her to raise only two hundred and twenty dollars by her birthday, but she decided to keep trying.
Six weeks later, a traffic accident left Rachel critically injured. Friends began to contribute to the fund to signal their support. On July 23, 2011, three days after the accident, Rachel was taken off life support and died. But Rachel’s dream lived on. As the media picked up the news about her dream of clean water, the contributions poured in. The account was closed on September 30, 2011, with total contributions of over 1.2 million dollars that would help more than sixty-three thousand people.
By God’s grace, Rachel’s death was not the end of the story. What are your dreams for reaching out to others with Christ’s love? How are you helping others press on “toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus”?
Holy God, thank you for giving me dreams of how to share your love with others. Give me the courage to see these dreams through. Amen.
The Isaiah text portrays the redemptive activity of God that is about to be introduced into Israel’s life. All paradigms lie shattered before the immensity of God’s grace! The joy of Psalm 126 is occasioned by the memory of God’s act of redemption in the past and also by the anticipation that a similar intervention is imminent. Paul’s autobiographical sketch directed to the Philippians confesses the change that has come into his life as a result of “knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” The story of Mary’s anointing of Jesus’ feet must be read in the context of Jesus’ looming passion. Jesus sets Mary’s actions in their proper perspective by linking them to his own death, even as he deflects Judas’s counterfeit compassion.
Read Isaiah 43:16-21. How do you respond to this God who insists on doing new things for the sake of the people?
Read Psalm 126. Pray this psalm three times: (1) pray all the verbs in the past tense in thanksgiving; (2) pray all the verbs in the future tense as a prayer for help; (3) pray verses 1-3 in the past tense, verses 5-6 in the future tense. Which was hardest to pray?
Read Philippians 3:4b-14. What props or credentials do you need to let go of?
Read John 12:1-8. What motivations does your discipleship reflect?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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