“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”- Philippians 3:13-14 (NKJV)
One of the funny things I’ve noticed about myself over the years is how I seemingly get into these “friendly ribbin’ matches.” Take, for instance, my time at America’s Keswick recently. Many of my Keswick friends hadn’t seen me in quite a while and were not ready to see that I have gone without a haircut for, well, quite some time. At one particular moment, in the Keswick’s lobby is where brothers David, Bryant, Bill, and myself had gathered to discuss said length of hair when said ribbin’ match took place.
“I didn’t recognize you at first” was Dave’s reaction. Bryant is just jealous because, well, he’s bald and I still have hair; but it’s what Bill said that churned those gears of the melancholy that I keep to myself, “He’s just going through his third mid-life crisis”. Hmmm…there just might something to that. I think my first was around the age of 20. I was a maniac in those days and my mother rested in the knowledge that no news from me was good news. When I hit 40, I found myself unable to be a son, a brother, a husband or a father and if I didn’t finish my 120-day stay at Keswick’s Colony of Mercy, I was gonna have to make due with whatever “Secular-land” was gonna throw at me. BUT GOD!!
It can be a painful feeling to look back on life and feel like that there was something greater one could have accomplished. This can be disheartening and may have us asking ourselves do we meet the criteria of the future? Is the struggle and conflict to attain some sense of perfection all leading to what seems to be of little purpose? Well, there can be sorrow but not brooding over this stuff, brooding ain’t spiritually healthy. Our course should be one that goes from sorrow into obedience, Gospel provision, and motives. The benefit of this is two-fold, one where God’s grace brings about change and sanctification and, second, one’s duty to be obedient to their heavenly call. (Sounds Tozersque, don’t it?).
“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” -Philippians 4:11-13
Eventually it becomes about contentment and the ability to display it in humility through, what is known as, a grateful heart. I think the apostle Paul nails this in the aforementioned passage of Scripture from Philippians 4. As I work my way through this “third mid-life crisis,” I wonder, have I really learned to be content in whatever state I’m in? Now, I can be really clever and break out this little diddy from 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, My strength is made perfect in weakness”, however, it has been difficult to boast in my infirmities and that may interfere with the power of Christ to rest upon me…what a wretched man I can be.”
But there is something to verse 12 of Philippians 4 that does strike a chord (in the NLT), “I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.” If I look back, through the proper lenses, I see that I lived a life that can be filtered through this verse and ultimately it can only be credited to El Shaddai’s unmerited favor and allows this truth to bring rest… “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” His strength made perfect in my weakness because…
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5
No matter how old I’m getting or how long my hair is growing I’m still gonna be learning about contentment and the ability to display it in humility through, what is known as, a grateful heart. And what does that grateful heart look like? A branch that needs to stay attached to El Shaddai, leaf’s that wanna grow in Christ with a thirst that finds its way to rivers of water so the Name above all names can be magnified in the life of man, content. Amen?
Written by Chris Hughes: Chris is a child of El Elyon, a son, a husband, a father, who has an education in Biblical Doctrine and is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy 2003. He also has been a Freedom Fighter contributor since 2008. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org