Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, rejoice. – Philippians 4:4
When I was at the Texas State Fair a month or so ago, I don’t know if I’ve had joy like that in a long time. Every problem that I had back home in South Carolina seemed to just be nonexistent. In fact, when I got back, those problems were all there ready to smack me in the face as soon as we turned on exit 1 and onto Highway 11. It was like my joy just melted when I got back to reality.
I have a friend who has recently come home from a weekend getaway where he did nothing but seek the Lord. Philippians 4 is where the Lord led him. As he was telling me all that the Lord told Him, the Lord was really speaking to my heart and mind as well. In fact, for two days solid now, I bet I’ve quoted Philippians 4:4 a hundred times in my mind.
You see, when Paul wrote Philippians 4:4, he was not at the Texas State Fair . . . He was in prison. In Chapter 2, verse 14, he encourages the church to do things without complaining. In chapter 4, verse 2, he tells a couple of people who are fighting to knock it off. He’s basically like, “Look y’all . . . Y’all’s name is in the book of life! Rejoice! I’m even going to tell you again . . . Rejoice”. That of course is the Salem translation. But doesn’t it sum up Americans? We complain about the things we have to do, and we pretty much always can’t stand someone else . . . at least that is the way I am. This verse smacks me in the face, “Dude . . . rejoice!”
As I dwell on and simmer in Philippians 4:4, with all my heart, I don’t want to be like I am anymore. I want to have as much joy today driving my bus, teaching my classes, sitting in meetings, driving in my car, hanging with my family, playing music, cleaning the kitchen, mowing the yard, taking out the trash, and absolutely anything else that I do today . . . I want as much joy as I had had the Texas State Fair. There was this unbelievable moment where I had my arm around my wife, I was listening to Trace Adkins, I was looking at that monstrous neon Ferris wheel changing colors . . . man, life was just perfect in that moment. I looked up and I thanked God. Yet, it convicts me this morning . . . I don’t want to only tell Him that when things are just like Adam likes them.
If God is in my life . . . and He is! What a difference that should make! If I mope around at work dying to go home . . . why in the world would anyone want the God that I claim to have? What difference does He make? If I stay aggravated at people’s pettiness . . . what good am I to God’s kingdom. At the end of the day, my name is in the Lamb’s book of life! I will not stand condemned before a Holy God! If I die at 80, then in 33 short years, my faith will become sight . . . I will physically behold His Glory with my own eyes! All of a sudden, that does not seem like a lot of time. All of a sudden, I realize my need for the Lord to change me and what I think is important.
Lord, I am amazed at how You are teaching me and transforming me. Oh, with all my heart I want this joy! Paul had it in a prison cell. I don’t have it with comforts some people only dream about. I humbly ask, Lord, to fill me with that “peace that passes all understanding” that You talk about just a couple of verses later. Maybe that isn’t what I need to be asking for. Maybe I need to be asking for help in only thinking about things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy . . . help those be the things that I fill my mind with and truly dwell upon. Lord . . . I really want to get this right. Philippians 4:13 is the most famous verse in this chapter and we use it to win sporting events. As I think about the impossibility of what I’m asking, it sure means something to me right now . . . I can’t rejoice in my own strength, but I can do it through Christ . . . who gives me strength. Amen.