“Not that I am implying that I was in any personal want, for I have learned how to be content (satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or disquieted) in whatever state I am. I know how to be abased and live humbly in straitened circumstances, and I know also how to enjoy plenty and live in abundance. I have learned in any and all circumstances the secret of facing every situation, whether well-fed or going hungry, having a sufficiency and enough to spare or going without and being in want. I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency].” Philippians 4: 11-13 (AMP)
I just need to talk to myself for a minute. My bad if it’s all over the place…that’s pretty indicative of where I am at the moment…
When I reflect on the above passage of scripture, I can’t help but be aware of my grave need for Paul’s attitude and approach. There are few desires in my life that top consistency. There’s so much going on in this heart of mine and, in response, I don’t want to be variable. I really and truly want to be content no matter what. But when it comes to less than desirable circumstances, it seems like my only real option is to take them and like them. If I don’t, good attitude in tow, then I’ll be seeing this trial again. So that’s it…learn to absorb the very things I’d prefer to be different in my life.
Then that word, “absorb,” got me thinking…
ab·sorb [ab-sawrb, –zawrb]
verb (used with object)
1. to suck up or drink in (a liquid); soak up: A sponge absorbs water.
2. to swallow up the identity or individuality of; incorporate: The empire absorbed many small nations.
3. to consume, devour or soak up
4. to receive or take in
5. to take up or receive by chemical or molecular action
To absorb is to reduce the intensity of a matter. I’d even go so far as to say that anything capable of absorbing enables consistency for the sake of everything/everyone around it. Hope that makes sense. To me, that sounds pretty characteristic of the peace of God. Philippians 4:7 (AMP) says:
“And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
For all of the uncertainty and devastation that characterizes tough circumstances, HE “consumes, devours” and “swallows up their identity.” HE is available to “receive or “take in” the shock of the unexpected or unbearable. And HE incorporates whatever is absorbed into my story. Only God has this peace to give…just another of the myriad of reasons I need Him.
It wasn’t about anything Paul did to establish this level of consistency…it was all about His focus. Isaiah 26:3 (AMP) says:
“You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.”
It’s impossible to maintain any level of consistency of thought, emotion or being without an unrelenting focus on God. Accordingly, I need God’s abiding presence in my life. I’m learning that pursuing God is not a part-time endeavor…rather, it requires all of me at all times. Engaged…occupying myself with the business of seeking Him. Just like with anything worthwhile, I must be committed to experience results. It doesn’t leave much time for adverse thinking. True satisfaction can ONLY come by way of pursuit of this kind. A fixed mind…a fixed heart…a fixed life. (This gives tons of perspective to the concept of being “unequally yoked”…but that’s a whole ‘nother post).
Romans 5:1 (AMP) says:
“Therefore, since we are justified (acquitted, declared righteous, and given a right standing with God) through faith, let us [grasp the fact that we] have [the peace of reconciliation to hold and to enjoy] peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).”
God, thank you for sending Your son to absorb Your wrath for my sin. Since relationship was made possible between us, Your peace is now available and accessible to me.