My ‘life’ verse for the past 35 years or so reads, “I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6, HCSB). This promise has seen me through some very dark and difficult times.
More recently, however, this verse seems less and less appropriate. The church and community I serve are in the midst of a difficult time of transition. The community was built as a company town. Post-World War II saw an explosion of lumber mills providing thousands of good paying jobs. These jobs lasted until the early 1980’s when a variety of factors impacted the smaller mills. One by one the smaller mills have closed and only a few mills remain – some specialty mills and the larger, Roseburg Forest Products. The community has changed. Since 1990 Winston has grown by nearly 100% and yet the school district that serves Winston has seen around a 30% decline in enrollment during the same time period. Hmmm.
Do I believe that God is still working towards completion in my life? Certainly. I can say with confidence, however, that my understanding of His goal for my life has radically changed from the early 1980’s when I was called to First Baptist Church of Allyn, WA. (That church changed its name after I left, and eventually closed and the property was sold to a church of another denomination).
So, my life verse is still Philippians 1:6. God is still at work. While His ultimate purpose never changes, His ways of working in and through my life do change with the seasons of life. Instead of praying for the selfish and immature dreams of my youth, I now seek to more fully recognize the union I have with Christ and to allow Him to shape and mold my life according to His purposes instead of my own.