The verses lay hidden in the passage. They were words that would envelope my life. They were words that would put into precise expression my new feelings for Christ.
I can no longer remember what I was doing when I discovered them. I may have been reading according to a schedule. I may have been just casually taking in what lay on the Bible page randomly opened. I may have been looking for some direction in my life.
Suddenly, these verses opened up every cell, blood vessel, muscle and nerve in me. The Apostle Paul had placed on the sacred page what I then felt inside.
“That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3:10 –14 (KJV)
As a writer I seek the right words to express the right thought. As a writer I appreciate another writer’s hitting the mark for me. In this section, Apostle Paul hit the mark stressing the priority I felt of knowing Christ in every aspect of life, even death.
That was remarkable because I am not one who tolerates suffering and not one who looks forward to his death. But yet here, in this statement defining the extent to which I would like to know Christ, I was affirming my willingness even to suffer and to die in Him. In Him all fear of suffering and death seemed to fade to insignificance. In Him all concern for personal safety melted away. Knowing Christ surpassed everything for me.
And for the Apostle to admit he was not perfect, but was seeking after that thing in Him which Christ had found worthwhile echoed in my heart. I could readily admit my imperfections. I also could admit my puzzlement over why I had been chosen by God. I knew myself from the inside out. I was painfully aware of my dark flaws. Yet within me resided something worthwhile which Christ had seen and was affirming. I wanted to know what that was.
I also understood the image of pressing on like a runner in a race to the high calling God had for me. Many years earlier I had been a jogger. I had run a number of races and spent time just running for the exercise. I often times tried to relax while running so I could finish my course for the day. Here though, the image was one not of relaxing but of straining or pressing on toward the prize of that high calling God had placed on my life. I didn’t know what that looked like, but I was excited by the possibilities. God was not finished with me yet. I wanted to see what the finished product was going to look like in me.
While these verses did not speak directly to my work as a minister, they addressed my walk of faith while in the parish and still do in my writing for Him.
How about you? Do you have favorite verses in the Bible? Would you be so kind as to share them here? Why are they your favorites? They might be just what someone else needs to read today.