I love “Ah-ha!” moments. It’s as if someone throws a switch in my brain.
I can almost hear it click. It happened recently in church- always a good place for an “Ah-ha!” moment, right? At forty-three, and married to a minister for twenty years, there are few times when I actually hear something in a message at church that I have not heard before.
It was just an aside to the message. It wasn’t even the speaker’s primary passage for the morning. Thinking about it now, I could have left early, because after my moment, I was done for the day. I had what I was brought there to receive.
The speaker referenced a passage of scripture known to many whether a long time believer, or a relative novice.
It’s Philippians 4:13. You know, it’s the “I can do all things through Christ” verse. The speaker challenged us to always consider a verse of scripture relative to its context. “Yes”, I thought. “I always do that”, I told myself. It’s the appropriate thing to do. “Preach on”, I thought.
We were told to consider the verses that lead up to the one that tells us we can leap tall buildings in a single bound through Christ who gives us the strength. Paul, the writer of the favored passage, mentions that he has endured hardships as well as easyships, and has learned to be content in both. He has been both well fed and hungry, has lived on easy street as well as skid row, and he has learned to be fulfilled in either circumstance. How? Well, here comes verse 13.
He can manage these feats because Christ has given him the strength to do it. Ouch. Context. Was I guilty of using this verse in my life separate from its context? Yep. Had it sometimes been my very own rabbit’s foot for success? Maybe.
I’m thinking that this brief aside to the message could possibly have been in there just for me.
Perhaps no one else sitting there gave it a second thought. I have spent a lot of time contemplating the whole contentment issue lately so it flipped my switch.
My minister husband resigned his church position several months ago, and we are learning to make do with less. We are far from hungry and skid row, but there have been some major changes in our house. A good bit of belt tightening, and part time work for me has turned into full time work. An air of uncertainty reigns, as my husband ventures into a different professional role. Will he continue in this new adventure outside of ministry, or is this a temporary sabbatical?
As I sat there and heard Philippians 4:13 in it’s context, I realized that while there are days when I don’t know how much longer I can endure our new situation, I find I can and I will. How? It’s because it is Christ who will give me the strength to do it. I may bend, but I will not break. The promise of Philippians 4:13 doesn’t mean that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to, rather it is a promise that no matter my circumstance, I am promised the strength to endure it. Not my own strength which falters, but strength that comes from Christ and which never fails. “Ah-ha!”

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