Philippians 2:12-13 – Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (ESV)
Recently, Caroline managed to snag her engagement ring, caught in her coat. The central ruby was lost somewhere on the floor at college.
Being well acquainted with my role as a husband, I took the ring off to the goldsmith to get it mended. The goldsmith informed me that the ruby had been lost because over time, the gold collar that secured it had worn down at the edge. If a new jewel were to be set in securely, it would require a new gold collar as well as the new gem. As a concerned husband, I knew that it was a part of her identity, so the cost was incidental, and I think that the goldsmith perceived it.
I wondered whether the new ruby in its setting would be a comparable replacement with which Caroline would be pleased. The goldsmith assured me that the gem and his replacement work would be better than the original, because to him, it was not that good a ring. Ouch.
I was perturbed, paying out serious money in the lead-up to Christmas, but the goldsmith did a good job, and the ring now has a new deep-red ruby replacement and collar. I trusted that God would sort the finances out somehow, which He did.
Then, after a busy time in the new year, I had to attend the monthly gathering of a Christian leadership course. By the end of the day of sessions, I felt worn down by all the doing.
As an old man amongst the young, I was downhearted because, unlike the others, I had arrived with fewer personal resources than when I had begun some forty years before, so I felt that I had less to give. Although God is good, when it comes to starting new things like leading and helping others into the kingdom, it appeared to be a daunting task. Where had God's love for the lost and the unloved gone in my cosy life?
So the next Sunday, I stood in church with a heavy heart, in the knowledge that, before God, I was coming up short. As others worshipped, I laid before Him my depleted condition. If He wanted me to continue, taking on new challenges with diminishing mental and physical resources, reaching out to the lost, it was crucial for Him to do something, as I felt that I had nothing.
As I stood there, into my prayers came a picture of the goldsmith and Caroline's ring repair, better than the original. I saw the new ruby in its new setting, repaired, all bright and shiny. God showed me that He wanted to minister to the worn-out setting in my heart, to rebuild and to replace the gem of God's love for those to whom He would take me. He had already paid the price; it was not me but Him through me that mattered. Wow! I was overwhelmed!
I guess that God had known my situation before Christmas, but it required time for me to get the message of my need. I trust that now, I can have the confidence to work prudently in His strength and not be afraid of burn-out.
For those of us practiced Christians working hard, finding life a bit uphill, may I suggest that you ask God into the situation? Hand it over; be honest. See what happens!
Prayer: Lord, thank You for saving us, for being The Rock, our firm foundation. Please forgive us when we get sidetracked from Your calling in our lives and take it upon ourselves to be the light of the world. Please walk with us again in the way in which we should go. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.
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Listen while you read: "His Eye Is On The Sparrow" (Lyrics)