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The Beautiful Tension

"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." -Philippians 1:6 (ESV)

A few weeks ago, my pastor started a new sermon series out of Philippians, and I've been chewing on the verse above in particular ever since.

I honestly don't know about you, but whenever I come across a verse like this, I feel a beautiful sense of tension start to build inside of me. I think it's because Philippians 1:6 is one of those verses that can be read with either a sense of fatalism or a sense of hope. I tend to read it with little bit of both (which might explain some of why I feel this tension in the first place).

For me, the fatalism is in the knowing that I wasn't zapped into a perfect creature here on Earth the second I chose to surrender to the one who wanted to do a good work in me (God). It is very much a process, and living in a society where so much is available to me so quickly means sometimes I indulge in a mindset of entitlement simply because I want something. Knowing that this good work isn't going to be done any time soon is exhausting and frustrating and makes me want to just give up (fatalism at its finest, eh?).

The hope is in the promise that "he who has started a good work" will finish what he started. I know, I know... We do live in this crazy world where promises are broken more than they are kept, but I don't think it's crazy to think God is capable of keeping his promises. From Genesis to Revelation is one gigantic string of promises made and kept (to either the benefit or detriment of those he made promises to). Even if I didn't have the evidence of and in my life to prove his capability, shouldn't the Bible be enough?

The tension, then, is the existence of the two in the same place. What does that look like, and where is the balance, then?

Where the balance is, I think, is in not falling into the lies - the lies that can creep in along with the knowledge that we are works in progress. The process of perfection is long, painful, everything but pleasant. In the moments when I'm tired, stressed, fill in the blank with a negative feeling, it's easy to listen to the lie that what I am is what I am, and I'm always going to be this way, so there is very little point in trying to be anything else.

That sound familiar to you?

I thought so. But the promise is that it will be finished. I am not who I was, and I'm not who I will be. I'm on the beautifully tense path between them.

And I'm learning to embrace the journey between the two.


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