This week, I was summoned to Seattle, WA as part of a forty-three person federal jury pool from which twelve jurors would be selected to render a judgment on a criminal case involving child pornography. This required a two-and-a-half-hour drive into downtown Seattle, with its maze of congested one-way streets, and never-ending construction.
In order to make my appearance at the required hour, I had to reserve a hotel room with the most expensive hotel, and the smallest room in which I have ever stayed. Parking, gratuities, and meals were not included.
I was tired and grumpy!
The morning I was to report, I awakened early, knowing that I needed to find a coffee house where I could grab breakfast.
As I sat at my table, alone, sipping my coffee and grousing quietly about how much I did not want to be where I was, or to be doing what I was doing, God interrupted my private pity party. In walked a woman wearing a black hoodie with bright pink lettering on the back that read “Good Mood.” It’s the hoodie in the photo (She kindly let me take a picture of it.).
How many times have I exhorted others (even through this blog) about doing all things without grumbling and complaining? (Philippians 2:14)
Let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, – Philippians 1:27a, ESV
The apostle Paul wrote that from a prison cell. Here I sit in a coffee shop with my hot nectar of life, and a bacon-sausage-egg-and-cheese muffin. My life-frustrations simply do not compare.
Also from prison, Paul calls on us to:
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, – Philippians 2:5, NASB
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, – Ephesians 5:1-2a, NASB
My servant heart, imitation of God, and walking in love was an epic fail. I was modeling Christ for no one. Not my fellow coffee shop customers, not the desk clerk at the hotel, not my beloved wife. In no way could I say, with Jesus …
…I always do what pleases him. – John 8:29, NASB
Paul told the church at Philippi that each of us is to look not only to our own interests, but also to the interests of others, to serve others in a spirit of selflessness and humility. In this jury service, I was being called on to listen, consider, and make decisions that would profoundly affect the defendant’s life for decades to come. But my selfish concern was only with how it inconvenienced me.
My circumstances are irrelevant. The call to godly living applies all of the time, not merely when I feel up to it. Again, from prison, Paul writes…
I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:11b-13, ESV
As Christ-followers, our contentment is rooted not in circumstance, but rather in something far deeper. We have a tap-root that runs to inexhaustible resources that make our circumstances immaterial. It is instructive for us to note that everything we need to meet the basic necessities of life are found within, and conversely, nothing outside of ourselves can meet that same need.
We stay tapped into the vine. Jesus is the vine, and we are the branches, and in that context, Jesus says
…apart from me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5b, ESV
Keep the eyes of your heart on Jesus.