"But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which [is] from the law, but that which [is] through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;" - Philippians 3:7-9 NKJV
I'm on the train to Sacramento and have just said "goodbye" to my family in Bakersfield. It was pretty hard and as I sat there trying to get my mind on something else, I decided to try to put a movie on. Only, my computer wasn't working. Neither was my internet so I couldn't even text or talk to someone.
Call me a blockhead, but it took me a good hour to realize that what I truly needed was time with the Lord. So, I sought some solace in the Word. Philippians 3 was up on my computer already, so I started reading it and dwelling on the rich words Paul wrote there. It's one of my favorite books and yet I tend to rush through the first 3 chapters to get to the 4th...my favorite chapter.
But right now, Chapter 3 was just what I needed. I have to say, I haven't reflected much on how Paul had to give so much up in order to follow the Lord's call in his life. In verses 4-6, he explains who he was before knowing the Lord and how they were his identity. But then, just as quickly, he brushes them aside with "but what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ..."
And, after having to say goodbye to my family, pack up my belongings into 5 pieces of luggage, leave behind my church family of 7 years, and step away from familiar in order to follow the Lord's calling to Scotland...what Paul said and the things he did resonated with me.
I tried to re-write what Paul said in my own words (in verses 7-9):
"But these merits and titles I had are nothing compared to what I have in Christ. I chose to rather lose them so I could gain Christ. It’s true, I gave up every pride and every title I had to know Christ Jesus as my Lord. It’s been hard and I have suffered because of it, but in the end that stuff I had to give up was crap compared to what I have been given in Christ: a new identity, a new chance at life. It is nothing I have done or that anyone or anything else has done for me, but what He has done and what I faithfully believe He can do: restore my true righteousness through faith in Him;"
Granted, the difference is that Paul was speaking of what he had to leave behind in his flesh in order to gain salvation in the Lord whilst the stuff I am leaving behind is to start a new chapter in the life the Lord has given to me.
But the feelings are still there. I can imagine Paul having those reflective fleshly moments of "did I really give all of that up for this life?" "Did I make the right choice?" "I really miss what I had..."
I know that days will come when I will miss my family, familiarity, my church, my community...and the days will come when I will let my flesh wonder about the what-ifs and what-could-have-beens; but Paul's comforting words will remind me of why I pressed forward and moved onward to Scotland...
"Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 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 3:12-14 NKJV
And what I do know is that I can't hold on to the life I am leaving being. I have to let it go and boldly step forward into what the Lord has for me. New relationships, new ways of communicating with my family in the states. New fellowship, New emails with updates of what the Lord is doing. New.
The race has to be run with endurance. Paul knew that. I know this from Paul. Christ reminds me of this and the Spirit comforts me through this.
This is where joy comes from. Following the Lord. Leaving yesterday where it is and not wishing for it to come back. Staying current with God. Rejoicing in Him. Let's not forget the beginning of this chapter:
"Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you [is] not tedious, but for you [it is] safe." - Philippians 3:1