Words of Worth

“IN it or ON it?”

January 28, 2012

Sheryl and I often say here in this blog, and when we are out teaching together that “Words matter and God’s Word matters most.” It’s a true statement and one lesson about words I’ve learned recently is not to overlook even the smallest ones.

My son is home for a couple of days in between his January term at college and the beginning of the spring semester. His “J-term” class this year was theology and just as I imagined, he really enjoyed learning about the founding fathers of church history. Wednesday night while sitting next to me on the couch in a “college break semi coma mode”, he mumbled, “I learned a lot of really big words in theology class.” Of course I wanted to know what they were and he said, “Um…Homoousian and some Filioque Clause”. He didn’t bother to explain what either of these terms meant and to be honest I sure didn’t know but by then he had drifted back off to sleep and my mind had drifted back to two words I had pondered that morning.

My words are not so big or impressive but I think they matter.

My two words? IN and ON

As we continue to study Philippians and examine the reason for Paul’s ability to remain joyful no matter what his circumstances (the shipwrecks, the snakebites, the stonings, oh my!) it seems to me that one of the secrets to his success is found in the difference between these two little words. Paul’s joy was found IN the Lord not just ON Him. Let me offer a couple of very simplified examples.

If I place a picture or a reminder note ON my refrigerator, as I often do, the refrigerator is serving a purpose. But if I put an item IN the refrigerator, whatever I put there enjoys all the benefits of the reason for the appliance. Namely, it gets cold and won’t spoil. The taste will be enhanced or it will stay fresher longer.

If I go to the pool in the summer and lie ON a float, I’m near the water but not really IN it. But hopping off the float into the water to swim, I will be fully immersed and once again, enjoy all its benefits. Namely I get cool and wet.

Paul’s outlook of steadfast joy was based on a steadfast confidence IN the Lord. He was enjoying all the benefits to be had by being fully encompassed and immersed in God’s presence and trusting IN His promises. Thus Paul’s ability to say,

“Finally, my brethren, rejoice IN the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard to you.”

Philippians 3:1

As I considered my little word “IN” compared to my son’s big important sounding college theology words, I realized a very common catchphrase right now encases the word and captures the essence completely. The phrase is “living intentionally”. It is a worthy concept and one that I want to change to “living IN-tentionally”. No matter what circumstances you find yourself IN – a shipwreck of faith, the stones of harsh words thrown at you by another, or the snakebite of betrayal, I pray you will place your faith IN the fullness and completeness offered by the Lord. May your goal be to enjoy all the benefits of living IN-tentionally IN Him. (CT)

“…For IN Him, all things hold together…”

Colossians 1:17

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