An Advent Journey: When God Became Small — Day Fifteen


Philippians 3:7-11, The Message

The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’s righteousness.

I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience his resurrection power, be a partner in his suffering, and go all the way with him to death itself. If there was any way to get in on the resurrection from the dead, I wanted to do it.

I want that kind of righteousness, too, Paul. I do. Really, I do.

But I’m not at all sure I want the suffering — and the death! — that goes along with it. I wrestle with that one a lot, you know?

Here’s the truth: rule-following was a lifestyle for me for many, many years. Slowly, with time and study and gentle cues from the Spirit, I began to let go of the list and embrace the freedom that God makes possible through the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. Can’t say I’m 100% done with the ‘inferior,’ as Paul labels it, but I’m gettin’ there.

And sure enough, getting there has involved some suffering and some very real ‘deaths’ along the way. And every time I find myself facing into that truth, I struggle! 

Fortunately, it seems that God enjoys a good wrestle. And for that, I am eternally grateful. 

God of Jacob, God of the Jabbok riverbank, thank you for letting me push back from time to time. Thank you for loving me enough to welcome my questions, my slowness, my resistance. And thank you for helping me walk through the dark valleys, knowing that I am not alone, even there. Amen.

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  1. I still struggle, too, Diana, with letting go of the inferior and embracing Christ with all His promises. I love how He never gives up on us, even when we falter and fall. He picks us up, brushes us off, and points us once again in the right direction – His path!

    • We all struggle with this one, Martha. The key is to recognize that it needs to be a struggle, I think. Blessings right back to you!

  2. “God loves a good wrestle,” perhaps because he knows that at the end of the exercise we’ll be the better for it. Reminds me of those “wrestling” moments with my own children–trying to help them see the errors in their thinking or make wise choices. And though I hated to see them suffer through pain and trouble, I knew that rescuing them 100% of the time (which wasn’t possible anyway) would only stunt their emotional growth and spoil them. Lord, help me remember that I can trust you to use suffering for my benefit, but you won’t mind if we discuss it rather bluntly! And thank you, Diana, for pushing my thinking–and response.

    • Indeed – ‘he knows that at the end of the exercise we’ll be the better for it.” Thanks for your continuing encouragement, Nancy.