For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
–Philippians 2:13 NASB
…[F]ixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
–Hebrews 12:2 NASB (emphasis added)
In the middle of the messiness of life, it is very difficult to see and hold to the vision that Jesus is working out His “good pleasure.” Last year during a particularly difficult transition season, I met with a friend who asked me the question: “What would you counsel someone who was in your position right now?” After commenting on her question-asking laziness, I’m sure I mumbled something smart-mouthy about counseling being stupid and very unhelpful and why would anyone listen to me anyway. Her wise question, however, awakened truth inside of me and helped me start taking steps back to Jesus. So how should I counsel myself to keep the vision of God and His purposes alive in my own heart?
On my good days, I would counsel myself to Remember: to remember who God is; to remember his salvation and the personal cost He paid for me; to remember my call to live a life worthy of Him; to remember all that He has faithfully done in the past. I easily remember His calling of us to serve internationally more than 30 years ago, and I remember even more clearly His conviction that ministry had trumped my relationship with Him, and that He jealously wanted my heart. I remember the beauty of his invitation that He aimed at my deepest heart’s desire.
After a season of remembering, I might counsel myself to move to Repentance: to repent of trying to get my needs for security and significance met in myself or in demanding that others meet those needs, or to repent of moving back into a fear reaction that I am not going to be okay. In the past, repentance came with a personal admonition of “I need to feel sad in order to prove that I mean it.” I am growing in my ability to rest in the forgiveness already given and to experience a joy that my Father wants to give me instead of going back to my old patterns of surviving.
Then, to keep my vision alive, I would tell myself to Return: to return to the Father like a child needing a hug of reassurance; to return to the place of silence where I can hear Him speak to me through His word and prayer. Whether it’s the pressure of transition or just the daily stresses of life, I want to live in such a way that the gospel I preach to myself takes me back to Jesus – who for the vision He had, endured the cross and the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the Father.
ACTION: How is your personal vision surviving the dailiness of life? What’s your Father inviting you to remember today? Are there areas where you hear his joyous invitation to repent and move towards him? What do you need to return to in order to keep your vision alive?