IT IS WELL
12 I don't mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection! But I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.
What a year this has been! We have laughed a great deal; we have cried often; we have learned much! Though tumultuous overall, this year has been illuminated by the presence of joy as well as by the presence of pandemic suffering in so many of our lives. As people of GOD, we have been inundated by the breath, presence, power, and scope of the complexities of communities' and countries' attempts to achieve understanding, ascribe meaning, ameliorate hope, and alleviate suffering in a world that has achieved unparalleled greatness, yet appears to have lost its conscience.
As we enter the season of Advent, we are deeply grateful to the LORD for the opportunity to reflect, pause, and render gratitude for GOD'S rich grace throughout the year. However, as we approach this season, we do so with a sense of expectation as well as a sense of solemnity. Expectation, because the celebration of the birth of the Christ Child reminds us that the LORD's mercies are new daily and that hope regenerates hope. Solemnity, because people are still hurting, dying, struggling, sick, complacent, despondent, shamed, ostracized, unemployed,self-focused, misrepresented, excluded, and disempowered! Life is very much a gift that is to be held sacred by all. We are all connected in the spirit and in the bond of love and must be mindful in this regard.
While many of us have sincerely given our lives to the service of others, we cannot refrain from asking the quiet question: "How different and whole could the world become if all of humanity were rendered their basic needs?" Too often, we are witnessing, at an alarming rate, the dichotomization of humanity; i.e., a distinction between and a propagation of the "HAVES" and the "HAVE NOTS."
Subsequently, as the days pass into weeks and the weeks into months, many of us are still struggling with significant concerns and issues to which no resolution nor reprieve appears apparent; concerns that are nothing short of life-threatening and that cause so many dimensions of our lives to hang in imbalance. Many of us still have concerns about our family members, while others are confronted with the challenges of staying financially solvent and/or employed, and still others are challenged with the residue of brokenness, grief, depression, loneliness, isolation, abandonment, rejection and victimization of numerous levels.
Consequently, Paul, in the text of Phillippians 3:12-14, offers us recourse and direction when we fathom and struggle with the vastness of GOD'S divine harvest; i.e., humanity. He reminds us to keep our eyes upon the goal and to press through every difficulty to reach it! Paul exhorts GOD'S BELOVED PEOPLE to forgot the things which were behind, so as not to be content with past labors or present measures of grace. In other words, thank GOD for past accomplishments, while reckoning with the ongoing invitation that the necessity to surge forth is ever-present. He reminds the BELOVED, that we must reach forth/forward in our expressions of love and have a great desire to become more and more like Christ. Paul states, "I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead." In essence, he/she who runs a race, must never stop short of the end, but press forward as earnestly as possible in heavenly and holy hope and terrestrial manifested joy.
In other words, despite the accomplishments that we can attribute to our work and despite the challenges that lay before us, we, THE BELOVED COMMUNITY OF GOD, must take both consolation and refuge in the unmistakable reality that GOD, our HEAVENLY FATHER, knows all and is able to change the destructive path of a nation, the excessive pride of a community, or the insignificance of those not deemed important in a twinkling of an eye! In some instances, we have witnessed the emergence of natural catastrophes and at other times unexpected devastation in our communities. During such times, we have been able to forget the superficial and band together as an earthly people. Consequently, we must refrain from allowing ourselves to be restricted by the past, but must garner the courage and the strength to press forward entrusting ourselves to GOD who will lead and direct our paths. What do we then say to such? We say, LORD, "IT IS WELL!" It is well with our soul!
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