Open Your Bible
Philippians 3:1-11, Jeremiah 9:23-24, John 17:3, 1 Peter 2:1-11
BY Guest Writer
I was sixteen years old and in a free fall. Literally.
We were on a family vacation and the swagger that comes with the teenage years made me feel like I had to pretend I was too big to be bothered with most of the “kiddie rides” at the amusement park. But the Tower of Terror—now that was a different story. As we strapped into our seats, I was still puffed up with ego and hormones.
And then the bottom dropped out and we plummeted thirteen stories toward what felt like my untimely death. The swagger was gone. I wanted my mommy (preferably holding a barf bag).
The apostle Paul knew what it was like to feel the bottom drop out of his life. After his radical conversion, the foundation he built his existence on was gone. Paul became so obsessed with Jesus that his words often cause the dual reaction of inspiration and perspiration in me. Take Paul’s words in Philippians 3:8, for example. I tend to look at this passage through squinted eyes and fearful fingers, like I’m taking in a horror film instead of the inspired Word of God. See if you have the same first reaction:
More than that, I also consider everything to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of Him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them filth, so that I may gain Christ.
Are you secretly waiting for the bottom to fall out? Worried that if you embrace Paul’s words as truth that you will find yourself in your own tower of terror, forced to let go of everything you love in order to prove your devotion to Christ? Yeah. Me too.
If we hop back just a few verses, we find the context to Paul’s words that helps us breathe a little easier. Describing himself, Paul said:
Circumcised on the eighth day; of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; regarding the law, a Pharisee, regarding zeal, persecuting the church; regarding the righteousness that is in the law, blameless.
If there was a checklist for how to be a perfect Jew, Paul would have all his boxes checked. From infancy he did everything right. But then he had a collision with Jesus, and though struck blind, he could suddenly see: birthright, law-following, and passion could not save him. The things he had built his life upon were like shifting sands. Yes, the bottom fell out of his life, but in the crater that remained, he found Jesus. The things that had once mattered so much to him just looked like a pile of filth.
Tough topics like loss and suffering and change are like little geodes: they’re rough and unadorned at first, but once cracked open, we always, always, always find this gem:
For Yahweh is good, and His love is eternal; His faithfulness endures through all generations.
Yes, Paul gave up much to know Jesus. But because God is good, so ultimately was Paul’s sacrifice.
Any time we feel the ground shift beneath us, we can know it has been filtered through the loving hands of our good God. We can look past the fear to the payoff:
So that I may gain Christ.
Erin Davis is a popular author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.