Two years ago, my family went to the happiest place on earth — Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL. We had a magical 4 days in the “Kingdom” riding rides, seeing shows, and often standing in line.
Apparently tens of thousands of other people thought it would be a good idea to pull their kids out of school in late April to “beat the rush.” (*SIDENOTE: When I was in high school, my family went to Disney World on the week of July 4. I can confirm that there were indeed LESS people there in April than a holiday in mid-summer.)
Lines at Disney World are more of an experience, though, than a beating. They have gone to great detail to make the line part of the ride, complete with stories, theming, and entertainment. But they are lines nonetheless, and they are everywhere . . . for rides, for trolleys, for food, and even for the parades.
Going to Disney World with a five year old (at the time) we really enjoyed all of the parades as they were great chances for Josh to see some of his favorite characters. Being just a little over 3 feet tall at the time, however, made seeing the parade difficult for our son. Therefore, I became a human scaffold for the week. My shoulders created the perfect press box perch for Josh to catch all the action.
I was thinking about this experience today as I prepared for Sunday’s sermon where we will be looking at Philippians 1:19-24. In these verses, Paul says that there is something in his future that he is “eagerly expecting.” The Greek word behind this English translation has a very picturesque meaning. The Greek word describes someone straining their neck to see something that was coming down the road. Like my son climbing on my shoulders and angling his head up to see as much of the parade as possible, there is something in Paul’s future that he cannot wait to see unfold . . . but what is it?
- Knowing that Paul was in prison at the time of writing this letter to the Philippian church, we might expect him to talk of “eagerly expecting” his release from prison.
- Or, knowing that Paul was very much in danger of being killed for his faith in Christ, we might expect to see Paul “eagerly expecting” circumstances that would lead to his survival.
- Or, knowing that Paul was an itinerant evangelist/church planter, we might expect Paul to be “eagerly awaiting” the conversion of thousands in response to his next sermon.
However, the thing that Paul was straining to see, the hope he was climbing on top of someone else’s shoulders to behold, was not his release, or his safety, or his success. What Paul was “eagerly expecting” to see was how Jesus would be glorified in his life no matter what happened next. Wow.
Where does that faith come from? How does one get such a perspective on life, and what does it look like in our lives today? We are going to be wrestling with this thought this Sunday at Wildwood in a message I have entitled “Winning” from Philippians 1. I hope you can join us in either our 9:30 or 10:50 worship services.
Also, I would appreciate your prayers this weekend. I am speaking 3 times at a Student Ministry retreat called “D Now” at Wildwood (once Friday night, and twice on Saturday). Pray that my words would be clear and that Jesus would be glorified through the weekend. One specific thing you can pray for me is a quote I love from Dr. John Hannah. He says:
When I preach, I try to create a category called Jesus. And if the Spirit would bless it, to make it beautiful that people might follow Him, for we choose what we like.
Pray that Jesus would be beautiful in my preaching this weekend and that students might follow Him.