Impossible things in Your name shall be done

I preached yesterday through my life verse and the verses surrounding it.  It’s a sermon that’s been building in me for the last several years as I’ve lived into the truth found in it.  You can hear the full sermon here.

For I am confident of this, that God who began a good work within you will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
-Philippians 1:6

I’ve been carrying around this nesting dolls metaphor since last September when I first heard Shauna Niequist talk about it at Belong.  She was talking about how, as we live life, we keep putting identities on top of ourselves.  But she pointed out that the first identity – that smallest little nesting doll – is that of child of God.
What she said immediately resonated with me and confused me at the same time.  But, Shauna, I wanted to say, I had a lot of identities before I claimed the one that is Child of God.
I wandered a long time (relative to my short life) before I really encountered this Triune God that I gave my life to – so how can that be the center of my identity?  In my own mind, I was already firmly established at 16, so when I added Jesus into my life, he was the new layer put on top, not the base.
Then I looked back on my early life and there are these moments that I don’t really understand.  I came to the realization that God was there all along – alive and at work in my life.  Even before I had a name for him or space in my life for him.
My 2016 word for the year was alive. Last January I wanted to be alert to where God was at work all around me in my day to day life.  I wanted to be aware of him.  I didn’t realize that much of that task was going to be seeing where he had been alive in my past.  Where he had intervened on my behalf long before I knew it.
I’ve reoriented my whole life around this call that God placed on my life.  And yet I still was viewing my identity in Christ as something I put on as a teenager.  I hadn’t really allowed it to be the core of who I am.  It took me the last several months between when I first heard this metaphor until when I preached it to realize what I’d been missing.
In the spring of 2007, I had graduated from college and was heading off to intern at a church half way across the country.  One of my mentors at the time gave me a card with Philippians 1:6 written in it.  She was encouraging me on my journey, telling me to keep going because God was the one at work.  I still have that card and this verse became my life verse.
I see it now in a much broader light.  This God, the same God of Israel, the same God who sent His Son, the same God who revealed himself to Paul, the same God through centuries of Christianity.  The same God that found me as a broken hearted teenager.  He’s the God at work in me, in those around me and in the world.
This past December one of my students texted me asking for my favorite verse.  I sent her this verse without really thinking why she needed it.  A couple weeks later I found out.  I opened my Christmas present from four of my HS girls.  In it was an ornament with the words “Carry On” and “Phil 1:6” on it.  They told me they were at an art fair and saw these ornaments.  So when they heard my verse they looked it up and summarized it as Carry On.
Two simple words that mean so much more than they seem to.  When we claim our identity in Christ, we carry on his work in our lives and in our world.
So let’s claim that identity together this year.  We are children of God, accepted as forgiven family members.

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