I was struck by these words through the Message translation of Philippians 1 recently.
Since motherhood is the course that marks most of my days, it caused me to pause and consider: how often do I go to bed at night and awaken each morning with this perspective?
Now, I don’t mean to liken motherhood to the prison Paul found himself when he was writing this letter, but I do think sometimes, if we are not careful, we as mothers can fall into an unhealthy pattern of viewing our circumstances similarly to being in jail.
Think about it. Have you ever wished you had more freedom, desired to return to a life filled with more independence, or hoped to have just one conversation with an adult that required a little more depth? While the desire for those things aren’t necessarily evil, a discontent with our circumstances as mothers can grow and develop into a dangerous mindset that loses our focus on the kingdom work that we are doing, and how it serves to advance the gospel, even when we cannot see it.
In his letter to the church at Philippi, after opening with thanksgiving and prayer for the church, Paul writes from jail about his cause for rejoicing in his current circumstances.
He was in jail. You may feel imprisoned with diapers and others’ agendas and serving endlessly meal after meal, organizing and teaching and instructing and disciplining.
But what stood out to me through this passage is Paul’s complete confidence and even JOY over what was happening, EVEN THOUGH he didn’t know the details of exactly how it would conclude.
Firstly, he has a large enough Kingdom view to understand “that [his] imprisonment here has had the opposite of its intended effect. Instead of being squelched, the Message has actually prospered.” Even in regards to “competing” preachers, he chooses a higher view and understanding of focusing on his ultimate goal: Christ proclaimed.
Here is the part that grabbed my heart as a Mama the morning I read it. It’s worth sharing in full:
“And I’m going to keep that celebration going because I know how it’s going to turn out. Through your faithful prayers and the generous response of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, everything he wants to do in and through me will be done. I can hardly wait to continue on my course. I don’t expect to be embarrassed in the least. On the contrary, everything happening to me in this jail only serves to make Christ more accurately known, regardless of whether I live or die. They didn’t shut me up; they gave me a pulpit! Alive, I’m Christ’s messenger; dead, I’m his bounty. Life versus even more life! I can’t lose.” (vs. 18-21, The MSG translation)
Goodness, so much to learn from his perspective here.
1.) He chooses JOY because he ultimately knows how everything will end – with Christ accomplishing HIS purposes in and through Him.
Do we believe that? Do we have a confidence in knowing Christ is accomplishing HIS purposes through us regardless of our circumstances, our weaknesses, our insufficiencies and how mundane our days may look? That’s an ideal that we steadily need to refocus on daily. It’s not a confidence in ourselves but in CHRIST and HIS WORK.
2.) Paul’s confidence in Christ is what leads to an excitement and a passion for continuing his course. What good news this is! When we place our confidence in Christ, it should renew us, refocus us, and remind us that we can go to bed tired, sure, but wake up knowing that this course is exciting! We can be eager to join Christ as work because he IS at work in our lives, in our homes, in our children.
3.) Paul understands that where HE IS NOW is simply his current pulpit or platform for making Jesus known. Do you believe that, friend? Maybe you, like I, need reminding of that today – where you are, where you find yourself today, regardless of how difficult or mundane it may seem, is exactly where God has you to make Him known. It’s his platform, so proclaim him through your actions, words, responses, and attitude.
Why? Let’s return to the goal: for Christ to accomplish His purpose in our hearts and homes for His glory.
How can we have confidence in that? Because CHRIST is the one accomplishing it.
So this is reason for us to joyfully continue our course with eagerness.
Continue today, friend. Continue in the confidence of Christ doing what only He can do to make Himself known. He will do it, and that should be exciting to us as we continue our course with Him.