As I begin this post, it is Monday and I am in the middle of preparing my Bible study lesson on Philippians 3:1-11. By virtue of the text at hand my lesson can’t help but contain all the very best a good, gospel-rich Bible lesson should and will thus be representative of all I love about teaching the Word. So I am excited as I wade through notes and commentaries and books in order to construct what I hope will be a lesson that is encouraging and challenging and faithful to the gospel.
I am a little, I don’t know, nostalgic too. My heart is tender as I make my way through these verses. I have taught and prayed over Philippians 3, particularly verses 7-9 many, many, many times. There was a season of my life and ministry where I scarcely taught a single Sunday school or Bible study lesson without quoting those verses, often in the amplified version:
Yes, furthermore, I count everything as loss compared to the possession of the priceless privilege (the overwhelming preciousness, the surpassing worth, and supreme advantage) of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord and of progressively becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him [of perceiving and recognizing and understanding Him more fully and clearly]. For His sake I have lost everything and consider it all to be mere rubbish (refuse, dregs), in order that I may win (gain) Christ (the Anointed One)
[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly]
~Phil. 3:8, 10 AMP
As I said, I prayed over these verses as well. I had them written out on notecards and in great fervency of spirit I would cry out to the Lord, begging Him for this kind of knowledge and intimacy and passion and zeal. I wanted Paul’s single-minded desire to know the Lord.
I wanted more. I wanted to know Jesus more. I wanted more love for Him, more passion for Him. I wanted the overwhelming preciousness and the surpassing worth of progressively becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him. I wanted my determined purpose to be to understand the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly. I wanted more.
I had no idea how the Lord would answer that prayer. I do know much has happened in the intervening years that I could not have imagined. So much so, in fact, that sometimes I feel almost a stranger to who I was then.
I don’t think that this, who and what I am now, is who or what I thought I would be when I begged the Lord for more. Maybe I thought I would have more confidence? More drive? A clearer sense of purpose? More success? I don’t know. Those weren’t exactly the things I was asking for all those years ago but I think maybe I assumed they would be part and parcel to the whole determined purpose deal.
But I can say this, with great humility and with great certainty: I have known the Lord’s faithfulness. I still believe, realizing afresh that my faith is as much a gift of grace as any other of His mercies to me. His grace to me was not and is not without effect! He who began the work in me has been and will continue to be faithful to complete it right up to the end. Yes, even and especially in my less-zealous days. For it is God who works in me to will and to work for His good pleasure.
Yes and amen.
Maybe this will encourage you as it does me: the Lord is faithful in ways we cannot imagine and in ways we often fail to see. Or feel. But He is faithful. He is indeed the more I seek.