I have not yet reached my goal, and I am not perfect. Phil. 3:12
Colonel Timmons, Chad to his friends, was a West Point Graduate, a decorated career officer and had graduated with honors from a well-known seminary. Chad now basked in his position of prestige as an ordained Bishop. Not content to simply wear his robes on Sunday and Wednesday, Colonel Timmons worked earnestly at being a true pastor or shepherd of his flock. He wanted to share Biblical truth and help change damaged lives. But he had a stumbling block; one common to veteran Christians, he felt as though he had arrived. He understood the Bible and was prepared to dispense advice and minster prayers to anyone who called upon him. Without realizing it, Chad had taken control of his life. He and God had become equals of sorts. Why bother God with little details like counseling, teaching, and preaching?
Although very gifted, talented and sincere, Chad had not arrived, not according to a significant Biblical figure who’d gone before; the Apostle Paul:
Philippians 3:12-16 I have not yet reached my goal, and I am not perfect. But Christ has taken hold of me. So I keep on running and struggling to take hold of the prize. My friends, I don’t feel that I have already arrived. But I forget what is behind, and I struggle for what is ahead. I run toward the goal, so that I can win the prize of being called to heaven. This is the prize that God offers because of what Christ Jesus has done. All of us who are mature should think in this same way. And if any of you think differently, God will make it clear to you. But we must keep going in the direction that we are now headed.
Because Chad’s heart was open, it was at a men’s weekend retreat that these verses from Philippians jumped off the page into Chad’s heart. He was transformed, once again, by the mighty power of God’s living word. The Holy Spirit took those verses and embossed them on Chad’s welcoming soul. He drank from the pool of Living Water and was nourished. The Holy Spirit directed Chad to verses to remind him that it is God, after all, who can change our hearts and form us into agents of hope.
Galatians 3:3-5 How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? Have you experienced so much for nothing? Surely it was not in vain, was it?
I ask you again, does God give you the Holy Spirit and work miracles among you because you obey the law? Of course not! It is because you believe the message you heard about Christ.
1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have confessed so well before many witnesses.
1 Peter 5:6-11 If you will humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, in his good time he will lift you up. Let him have all your worries and cares, for he is always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you. Be careful—watch out for attacks from Satan, your great enemy. He prowls around like a hungry, roaring lion, looking for some victim to tear apart. Stand firm when he attacks. Trust the Lord; and remember that other Christians all around the world are going through these sufferings too. After you have suffered a little while, our God, who is full of kindness through Christ, will give you his eternal glory. He personally will come and pick you up, and set you firmly in place, and make you stronger than ever. To him be all power over all things, forever and ever. Amen.
Now that God had Chad’s undivided attention, He reminded him of the Apostle Paul’s discussion with the Him about taking away a thorn in his side:
2 Corinthians 12:8-10 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
God reminds us that our lives are wrapped around spiritual warfare and will require an intense energy and alertness to compete. We do not “arrive” here on earth, our destination is heavenly and eternal. For now, we are to compete in the battle, knowing the victory is ours.