Arms Held High

Wow, it has been a week since my return to the States. As I walk up and down the halls of my school (teaching summer school) or hang out with friends, I feel as if there is a fog invading my vision. I just can’t seem to get a clear picture. Meditation, prayer, and continually delving into God’s word are the things that bring me to a place of
peace and thanksgiving. Since returning home I have found myself reflecting over the book of Philippians.

We call it a book, but to Paul (I like to think) he would consider it more like a journal or a letter to friends. The pages of Philippians are a mere documentation of his relationship with the church and its’
congregation. By no means, was Paul simply preaching the “Good News”. Paul was not just preaching! No, Paul was carrying out a love relationship with the people he encountered. He was counseling, giving
advice, serving along side, carrying out Christ’s message, and building relationships with the people of Philippi. Which eventually lead to them supporting him in prison. Which is another story, one about his faithfulness and patience. In Philippians 1:14,

“Because of my chains most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to
speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.”

A life without fear – finding full contentment in Christ…

In Philippians 4:11-13, we learn that Paul’s contentment was in Christ. He states,

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be
content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need,
and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of
being content in any and every situation, whether will fed or hungry,
whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him
who gives me strength.”

Paul’s contentment was not found in buildings, clothing, a personal checkbook or savings account. Paul declares that contentment is found in God’s loving embrace and a relationship with Him alone. Whatever
our circumstances or situations it is all manageable knowing: “Greater is He that is in me.” (1 John 4:4) Whether the situation is a literal prison or the chains of our personal bondage, with Christ we can come
through it and be in light. …But, we can’t do it alone!

Before returning to Nicaragua in May I was visiting with a close friend and his family. As we were preparing dinner, his son was in the kitchen floor planning with some pots and pans. The kid, very content with this “loud” activity, was matching the lids of the various pots and placing them a-top their rightful owners. He was very
successfully; he had fit five lids to the appropriate pots. One pot and one lid remained. I sat there watching the kid as he took the last lid and placed it on top the pot. It didn’t fit! The kid realized
this, so he took the lid and continuously striking it on top of the pot – trying to get it to rest on the lip. It wasn’t working! I watched the kid turn the pot a hundred different ways and use all his
strength attempting to make the lid fit the pot.

…Yet, nothing seemed to work.

Finally, the kid lifts up his arms and with a single cry pleads to his father for help.

It was one of those moments in your life, an “A-ha!” moment. I realized this is us as Children of God – this is me! I need to lift up my hands, surrender it all to God, and cry out for His undying mercy, grace, and blessed assurance. God has a plan, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to
harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) This declaration is restated by Paul in Philippians 4:19, “And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”

God has a plan for me, for each of us, which will bring glory to His Kingdom. We often want to get ahead of God’s plan and we often forget how much we need HIM. We need to remember, whether we are in chains or
defending and confirming the gospel, all of us share in God’s grace. God can testify how I long to be in Nicaragua again, to be with each of the people there by the affection of Christ Jesus. Let us serve God
wholeheartedly wherever we are. All glory be to God, my blessed redeemer.

Vaya con Dios,

Derek Voiles

*Below is a link to a song by Shawn McDonald that really puts into song what God’s been teaching me.*

Shawn McDonald “Open Me”

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