I know both how to be abased and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things, I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to be abound and suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me. – Philippians 4:12-13
These bold brave words in Philippians, the ones that we make a mantra and an affirmation and a reminder all together in the hard and the difficult and the wearisome things…I have said them far more often than I can count. They become a one-word, multi-syllabic prayer all at once, repeated and claimed and owned because they are life and marrow to the brittle parts of my soul.
I can do all things in Christ.
And I know that is true. That In Christ, all things are under His feet and subject to Him. That truth is never subjective, because it is Christ Himself, because He is the Way, the Truth, the Life. ( John 14:6) That Christ in me is powerful. That I can be full when I am empty, joyful when I am weeping, humble when I am celebrating, generous when I am suffering, strong when I am weakened low. All Things.
But can I be honest? I don’t always know how to abound well. I don’t know how to be full and be hungry and to abound and suffer well together, like at the same time together.
But maybe we are not meant to…to do them together all the time.
Because the more I study these words, I am seeing that the key to doing in Christ may just be the way we learn to transition in Him from one thing to the other. And the being one and the other, opposite and different, is a part of the living IN HIM that allows the transition to occur at all. How being hungry for God leads us to fill upon His goodness. And how the depletion of suffering actually makes more room for the abounding that we can only know Him. And in the all things… the every moment being a sum added together in the end ….resembles His careful attention to the details that make our life mean something.
These paradoxical opposites can equally share space. And, grace, of course.
Because grace allows us to transition from one to the other and to rest in the goodness of His glory as we wait.
God’s paradigm is often upside down to this world. And sometimes the humble and excellent things can be considered equally good and worthy at the same time.
Abased means to be humbled. The ancient greek means to be like a low-running river.
Abound means to excel, but more profoundly it means to experience varying levels of God’s grace in our seeking Him.
‘In all’ and ‘in everything’ are prepositional phrases that allow us to see the direction of our position. They both relate to life as a whole, yet significant in all its separate pieces. Because our identity in Him allows us inclusion in who He is but continuance of who He made us to be. The parts and the whole make sense when we see our place in His plan, the abounding and the abasedness become less of a mystery and more of a wonder as we see them through revelation He gives.
And only, IN CHRIST, can we fully partake of the paradox of grace and good and glorious in the midst of the wrecked, ruined, and wrung out spaces in our stories.
One of my favorite words in these verses comes from the greek word for ‘instructed’, which is memyemai. It literally means I have learned the secret or I am being taught a mystery. It is the heart of spiritual revelation by the Holy Spirit enabling us, as believers, to learn God’s opened secrets. To uncover and to have revealed by His grace, the wonder of all that He has provided in our every moment…good and bad and everywhere in between.
It is our duty to seek out the weight of His glory, the riches of his righteousness, the excellent and noteworthy wonders of His mercy. And this word memyai testifies of the majesty of God’s Wisdom. Not just that it is a mystery and a wonder, but more importantly that it is not withheld from those who seek it. He does not diminish the finding of His wonder in all things, in everything, when we look for it…. when we look for Him. Because provision is the providence of love over each of us who seek first the Kingdom that God. Because He knew our days long before we have lived them. Because He knows each need long before we speak them.
Because He has designed us to inhabit the good and the beautiful and the lovely, but he has given us strength to endure and to overcome the all and the everything that intercept us on the journey.
Learning to transition in grace, from one thing to the next, in all things is a lifestyle we learn in Christ.
Matthew Henry wrote that it is a ‘special grace to have an even temper of mind always’ and we ought to pray for this abasedness and aboundedness in His Spirit often. That we need to pray for them both. Abasedness and aboundedness is a learned lifestyle. This verse in Philippians 4 is talking about a lifetime of learning, living, and giving not just moment by moment. Though it can be applied to the particulars as much as to the whole. That is what is so profound about the Word of God. The infinite wonder of His wisdom is that the opposites go together so that we can understand them better.
Paul was encouraging the church at Philippi to learn the secret of contentment and encouragement, to live in submission to the Father in all things, and through His filling of us to bless others. Making a lifestyle of transitioning in grace from one thing to the other… in all things… is definitely a wonder and a mystery to attend to.
There is a wonderful lesson on grace in these scriptures that speak to our suddenly moments and the transition spaces we find ourselves often moving through. The places we find ourselves groping to find a foothold and the moments where we feel unprepared for the chaos of life. There is grace in the all and the everything moments, the kind that is abundantly humble and full and excellent all at once and together.
Let grace transition you through the day right into the fullness of His abundance.
IT’S YOUR TURN TO BE A GRACE COUNTER! SHARE YOUR GRACE MOMENT IN THE COMMENTS BELOW AND THEN COUNT GRACE WITH A FRIEND WITH COMMENT ON A BLOG OR TWO.
If you are a blogger, link up here with a post about finding grace moments in your life or one of your favorite inspiring and encouraging posts from this week. Share your thoughts in the comment section telling me about the #Grace Moments you experienced this week. *(only 1 post per link please)*
Take time to visit your neighbor next to you, and if you want visit a few more friends on the journey. We all need a little encouragement and affirmation as we travel together.
If you don’t have a blog, you can connect with me via my Journeys in Grace FB page by sharing a photo or a comment. Or you can join the party by sharing your images on Instagram with #Gracemoments hashtag.
Each week I will try visit as many of your amazing posts as I can.This is a safe place to sit and dwell in grace together, friends. I can’t wait to pour a cup of friendship with you and take in the grace moments you have to share. Don’t forget to leave a comment below, I love to hear from you.
Thanks for hosting!
Dawn, it does seem to me that what you are addressing today is the tipping point for so many of us in our faith walk. We are great at abounding, but when that pendulum swings and its time to walk the path of being abased, all of a sudden our theology unravels and reveals itself for what it really is — a bargaining system with God that hinges on our comfort.
Thanks for exploring this theme, today. I need to come back to it often.
Grace seems to be my “theme” for the last couple of months. It is so wonderful to me that the Lord brings themes back around to my heart and I learn a new thing!