Devotional: Upward Call
Have you ever received something that you waited a long time for? Most of us can probably relate to this on some level. Perhaps you remember wanting something as a child that you joyously found wrapped under the the tree on Christmas morning. Or maybe you waited and longed for a partner in your early adult years. Maybe you dreamed of a big house, a new car, or a promotion at work. Whatever your desire, I would guess that at some point, we have each received something we wanted desperately. And yet, we continue wanting things. We may be satisfied with whatever it was we desired for a while, but we ultimately want more. I spent several years wanting a husband and by the grace of God, He has blessed me with a wonderful, Godly man! But marrying Josh has not stopped me from wanting anything else. God has blessed us with a beautiful home and a happy, healthy, little boy. I have everything that I need, but somehow I still find my heart wanting more. Why is this the case? Why do the things that seem like they will fulfill us only leave us wanting more?
Paul does a beautiful job of speaking to this dissonance in our hearts through his words in Philippians. He starts out by saying, “Not that I have already made it my own, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own.” (Phil. 3:12, ESV) This verse might be my favorite from the sermon text. I love that Paul acknowledges that it is only through Christ, having called us His own, that we have the power to seek something greater than ourselves – Him. Pastor Barry explained how Paul’s confidence is not in Himself, but in Jesus. As Paul goes on to say in Philippians 3:14 – “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (ESV) Pastor Barry provided more insight saying, “This summons, this call, is like a pistol at the start of the race. The apostle Paul is not saying that we run the race as if we ourselves do it, but that Jesus has already run and won the race, and he is at the finish line encouraging us. But he is not only at the finish line, he is also with us and in us because we are his own and we have been called to him.” This call is the fulfillment that we seek.
The reason that we are never satisfied with what we obtain is that our hearts were not meant to be satisfied by the things of this world. Furthermore, when we become fixated on the things that are here, we ultimately become fixated on ourselves. And we were not made to worship ourselves; we were made to worship and serve another who is High above; the only one who has the power to satisfy the deepest desires of our heart. As Paul says in Philippians 3:18-21 – “For many of whom I have often told you and not tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in Heaven and from it, we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, but the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” (ESV) Paul knows that what we truly long for is our savior, not the fleeting things of this world. He knows that it is Jesus alone who will quench our thirst and weeps for those who have turned their hearts away from Him.
I am guilty of fixing my eyes on the things that are here. It is easy to get caught up in those desires, especially when the desire is for a good thing. Marriage is a good thing; children are a blessing and the desire to have them is not wrong. Wanting a nice house or a new car are not inherently bad things, but those things will not fulfill us; they will not satisfy the deepest longings of our heart. When we know this and understand that Jesus is the only thing that will satisfy us, we can fix our gaze lovingly on Him and find peace with where we are, because as Jesus has already called us His own, we can have confidence that He will make us new one day soon when we join Him in our eternal, heavenly home.