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Multiplicity

The victory beyond my failures

Our pastor's weekly worship email seemed particularly applicable to the struggle barlow_girl and I face and what it looks like to be faithful in it. Particularly as my life's patterns of failure appear to be recurring yet again, it's good to be reminded of what is true, so I'm including the text below.
Faith, prayer and obedience are what are required of us. We are not offered, in exchange, immunity and exemptions from the world's woes. What we are offered has to do with another world altogether.

—Elisabeth Elliot


The Apostle Paul had an amazing encounter with the risen Christ. This led him to commit his life to the spread of the gospel. One of the many churches he planted was the one in Corinth.

As we have seen over the past two months, the church in Corinth had deteriorated into a mess. Cliques, factions, sexual sin, narcissism, and gross spiritual immaturity now marked this congregation that he had labored over. The people in the church began to question Paul's own calling and pastoral abilities.

Can you relate to the profound downward pressure this painful loss would exert on Paul?

What do you do when something you have diligently labored for begins to disintegrate right before your eyes and swirl down the drain? Maybe it's a vocation or direction in the world that has never quite gotten off the ground. Maybe it's a child you have raised who is straying from the faith. Maybe it's a marriage you have poured your life into that is now crumbling.

What do you do? Do you sink under the oppressive weight of failure and loss? Do you re-imagine yourself, changing zip codes and your circle of friends?

What Paul instructs us to do is to sink our hearts into the hope of our future resurrection. As Christians we do not live for this life. We live for the life to come—the life of the resurrection.

The striking thing about what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15 is that not only should we "endure" or "hang in there." He tells us to "abound in the work of the Lord, knowing that our labor is not in vain."

In other words, we are to keep believing, praying, and obeying. We are to believe that somehow our labors in this life will bear fruit in the life to come—even if our labors at the moment seem to swirl down the drain into oblivion.

Comments

I just wrote this huge comment to this post and now I think it's gone. Uggghh. First off, I didn't realize this was "you". "Banzai" threw me off, but nevertheless I'm glad I found your livejournal.

I read the last 3 posts and it saddens me. As I read I can detect the heaviness of this struggle, though I don't know any details. I am encouraged as I see you speaking truth to yourself, to do exactly what you know you need to do: be faithful. God is for you and the fruit you yield will be plentiful, whether seen or unseen. I hope I can just encourage you to press on.

I am encouraged by you. I always was attracted to your humility and faithfulness. It's sad though, that we never connected, that Danielle and I never invited you guys over for dinner or something. It always seemed like we were so close to warming up to getting to know each other, but it never happened. You're the only one from Grace I still have any connection to. Thank you for reading my blog from time to time. If you ever find yourself in Colorado, let me know.
Thank you, my friend—your comment is encouraging to me on so many levels. I'm grateful to live in a time when we can still connect in some ways even across the miles, and honestly hope that we do find ourselves in Colorado so that we can spend time together. Likewise, whenever you come Seattle-ward, please let me know! I appreciate you, brother.

(Anonymous)

thank you for posting this

This is very helpful to me right now. Thank you for sharing. SG.

Re: thank you for posting this

You're very welcome—I was surprised at how directly John's email applied to our situation, and I'm glad it's not just us.
Good thoughts!
I really appreciated them, so I'm glad they have value for others as well!
Thanks for your share! very impressive!