As I read and re-read (and read again) this passage of scripture, there were several things that really jumped out at me. And, when I say jumped, I really mean they jumped out there. Not necessarily because I hadn’t heard them or considered them before… I just think maybe these are some areas where God is speaking specifically to me right now. It seems these have jumped out at me more than once recently (and, in several cases, more than just a few times). I’m really spending some time listening. Here is what I’m finding as I study these scriptures in Colossians…..
√ In verses 1 and 2 Paul says, “For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you, and for those in Laodicea, and for those who have not met me face to face. My goal is that their hearts, having been knit together in love, may be encouraged, and that they may have all the riches that assurance brings in their understanding of the knowledge of the mystery of God….” My immediate thought here is, “What if I displayed that same love and concern for those that I do not know? What if I was as concerned about those I’ve never met before as I am about those I do know?” I really do believe that God wants us to focus on more than just our immediate community. I think He wants us to remember the world as a whole, too. God wants us to have a heart for the world… he wants us to desire the world have the assurances that come only in knowing Him.
My first thought, though, as I realize this is “What in the world can I do for others in a completely different country or culture?” Keep reading… I think Paul answers that question, too. J
√ “For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit…”
There are so many things that can be done for our world. Some of us are called as missionaries to serve in foreign countries. Some of us are called to participate in short term mission trips to other countries. But, what about those of us that are called to be right where we are right now? What if we don’t feel called to be a missionary or participate in mission trips? What if we don’t have a lot of money or resources to spare? Do we look past the need of others around the world? Do we leave that up to those that have been called as missionaries, etc?
No, I don’t think so. And, I think Paul gives us an answer when he speaks of being absent in body, but present in spirit. Though Paul had never met the Colossians -- did not personally know any of them -- he did feel that through prayer he was with the Colossians in spirit. He prayed for them, for their spiritual well-being, their relationship with God and for their ability to turn away for those things that are not of God.
How about we pray for others? How about we share with God our desires for our world – our desires that they find Him and know Him as we do? It is so easy to lose sight of what we do not see everyday, but at the same time, it is so easy to pray about these same things. Though we do not see the rest of the world hurting around us everyday, that is no excuse to overlook them and not to take them before the Lord in our prayers.
√ “…overflowing with thankfulness.” This is an area God has been working on with me for quite some time now. I tend to become overwhelmed easily with the day to day… the housework, the kid’s activities, responsibility at work, church activities, etc. I become stressed and tired and focus on the negative instead of the positive. God has blessed me and my family so very much and the negatives that I focus on when overwhelmed are not that bad… they are more inconveniences. But, oh, how in my “humanness” I can make them feel like they are about the worst thing that could ever happen to anyone!
This is one reason I participate in the Thankful Thursday meme every week. It forces me to sit down and really focus on all the good there is in my life – on all those wonderful blessings God gives me each and everyday! More than one Wednesday evening when I sat down to type out that post I have been tired, stressed, some I’ve been sick, others just weary in heart and mind. But, I can guarantee you that when I have forced myself to sit down and type out that post, I have felt better every single time once I finish and press the “Publish” button on that post. Where we put our focus truly makes a difference!
What do you suppose would happen if we all shifted our focus to include these things –the many blessings that are in our lives and the ones unknown to us in this world that are suffering and living without a knowledge of God? Maybe a desire to spend more time in prayer with God? More time where we acknowledge all He has done for us, as well as prayer time where we focus on a city, state, country of which we know no one?
What do you think?