Because we have been working on goal setting and thinking about the future and what skills can be applied to give us a fighting chance, it triggered a memory of a particular passage of scripture that can be very controversial: Philippians 2:12, "Work out your salvation with fear and trembling..." Are you telling me that I have to somehow save myself? I don't think so."
An Old Testament man or woman might say, "Yes, I not only understand, but I can comply." Basically, if I hoped to stand before the Almighty as a righteous and deserving individual, then there were around 612 (621, depending on who's counting) laws to keep me on the straight and narrow and there were numerous ways of presenting an appropriate sacrifice for sins I knew I had committed and for sins I committed out of ignorance. In other words, I was in charge.
There are a couple of neat words in the realm of theology that may just help us out. The first word is justification: we are made righteous, saved, by the totally undeserving grace of God. The second word is sanctification: we work for God as a man or woman who not only accepts the gift of salvation but walks, talks and acts as one of His elect. In plain English, only God can save and there is not one task that I can add to His requirement. And only I can walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ and obey His commandments. I am one of the elect and I am one of the disciples.
In this marvelous world and with this marvelous life, we have a pot-full of choices: who am I, what talents do I possess and what is the direction I must take? After figuring out what I believe I am called to do, I must intelligently and systematically and courageously understand what obstacles stand in the way of my goal and what resources are available to overcome any obstacles. I will never forget one young lady who stood up in class and said, "Do you know what the biggest obstacle in my life is?"
"Tell me," I asked.
Her answer, "Me!" And her next words could have been in a book. "You know what my best resource is? It's me!" I tell her story to every class.
There was a young man in one of my classes several years ago who wrote out his statement of purpose and the goals he had set for his future. The next week, while he was driving, a car drove out in front of him and he was killed instantly. Much later, I received a call from his parents who told me that they found his letter in his school backpack. They said that they were so touched by what he had written that they would preserve his memory by trying to live their lives by his last words.
His memory is also kept by my sharing his story with every class.
Let's see, now what was that passage of scripture again? "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."
Another way of expressing those words might be, "Live the life that has been offered to you in awe of the Almighty God who made all things possible and in complete awareness of the work that must be accomplished."
Perhaps a passage in the Letter of James needs to be shared. "You have faith and I have works. Show me your faith and I will show you my works and by works I will show you my faith."
See it! Believe it! Achieve it!