Monday, November 5, 2012

To The Last Drop Of Blood

Image Credit: Andrej Anei [1]
   A sermon preached by Pastor John Neufeld at Willingdon Church two weeks ago has given me much to think about since I poured out some of my internal conflict and consternation in my last post. At the time, I was really wanting a new day [2] and a fresh start on a new chapter of life, after what seems to have been a rather trying year that has left me feeling rather drained.

   So it was, while trying to pick myself up off the ground and find the internal drive to get moving again, that the words of "What Real Life Looks Like" [3] spoke to me at a much needed moment, as Pastor John explored the following passage of the book of Philippians:

"..and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice. For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labour; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you for all your progress and joy of faith, that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again."
- Philippians 1:18-26, NKJV

   What do you desire more than anything else? What are the things you passionately look to have? What do you think is the example of a successful human being? What does success look like? And what are the things in your life that you would sacrifice, and what are the things that under no circumstances would you ever sacrifice if you had that chance? These were some of the opening questions of the sermon that gave me cause to pause and reflect. They brought back memories of my own convictions that I have come to over the years on these matters, and words that I have in effect written to myself to this effect on this blog as reminders. I took a good, hard look at a Mission Statement sitting on my desk that I had written out for myself seven years ago, a fresh graduate at the end of my undergraduate program in Engineering. The words and convictions are still the same, yet the man behind them has changed, grown, undergone metamorphosis, chrysalis...

So what answer do I have for those questions, with where I find myself?

    An answer to those questions emerged as Pastor John worked his way through his sermon. 

   Thinking about the situation in which I've found myself over the last two months - out of a job and looking for work, I find that I can intellectually assent to the statement that "hardships are opportunities", but struggling to find out what that looks like in my situation on the ground or how to get to where I'm supposed to go. To tell the truth, sometimes I've just felt dead on the inside in the midst of the chaos and uncertainty of this current episode, trying my best to keep things from falling apart, get back up and barely hanging on in the process. Planted between my situation and opportunity stand the determined foes of my own self, with whom I must do battle: my inertia, lethargy, apathy, dejection, despair, resignation.  

The foe is not out there, he is in here - in my mind and heart.

   If this, as Pastor John explained, is "what real life looks like", I don't stand a chance of making it through on my own. If anything, that should be the lesson that I should learn from this episode, if not from those of the last several years - that the resources are not in me to make it through. I really need help.
   It was the reminder of Jesus that brought things into focus for me. After all, who else has been the core subject of all that I have written and thought about? Who else has been the companion of this fool in search of Wisdom? It is really He that has been the cause of every post that I have written, and Him that I have thought about as I conclude every one of them. All of this has been written for and about Him. All that has motivated and driven me to do anything worthwhile has been my love for Christ, and Christ alone.

"But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God."
- Acts 20:24, NKJV

   That sentence, from the mouth of the Apostle Paul, is the answer of the Word of God that I latched on to. It brings into perspective everything that has happened to me - everything I have written to myself; every conviction that I have held; every resolution and promise that I have made; every up and down; every setback; every hardship; every heartbreak; every loss and gain; every abandonment and rejection; every failure and disappointment; every sorrow and anguish. None of these things must move me, because they are not the end goal. They do not matter if the sole purpose of my life is not to preserve it, but to lose it.

   This, I think, is the reminder that will help me get back up and keep moving forward - "nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy." My life is not precious to me, to be held on to tightly and kept comfortable. I will pour it out for the sake of Christ and others, till the last drop of blood is gone, and there is nothing left to give anymore. This is my purpose. And when that has been done, I will have reached my finish line and I will go to the home that awaits me [4] in the Land of the Living [5].

   The greatest obstacle of my life is my self; the greatest purpose - to pour everything out for Christ, till the last drop of my life and blood is gone; the greatest gain - to go home to Him.

    It's been a struggle to find the right words to write this, but I feel better now. I think a words of a hymn that is also my prayer are appropriate to conclude this post:

O Thou, who camest from above,
The pure celestial fire to impart
Kindle a flame of sacred love
On the mean altar of my heart!

There let it for Thy glory burn,
With inextinguishable blaze
And trembling to its source return,
In humble prayer, and fervent praise

Jesus, confirm my heart's desire,
To work and speak, and think for Thee
Still let me guard the holy fire,
And still stir up Thy gift in me

Ready for all Thy perfect will,
My acts of faith, and love repeat
Till death Thy endless mercy seal,
And make my sacrifice complete
- Charles Wesley

    These were the words with which I began last year. I'm glad I was reminded of them as this year begins to draw to a close. Everything, till the last drop of blood is gone.
- The Wisdom Seeker

[1]  Blood Drop
[3] "What Real Life Looks Like", John Neufeld, October 21st at Willingdon Church
[4] Where Is Home?