Philippians 2:14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. 17 Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18 Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.
Of all the things I have learned this month about frailty from using it as my lens to #write31days (all the entries this month can all be found starting here or at #31daysoffrailty on Twitter and Instagram), it turns out that that stuffing them into the final week of posts for this topic is a challenge! What was I thinking? I have asked that a lot this month and laughed at myself plenty, which is such a good thing. You have no idea.
It has also been funny to me to watch people’s reactions when I tell them about the frailty theme – they characteristically shudder. Believe me, I’ve shuddered too. Some parts of checking out what makes me uncomfortable in my skin (and growing braver about them) have been pretty awkward for both of us. You, the reader, and me, the one explaining what I notice. And many times I have felt poured out.
“Poured out” is not one of the biblical idioms that ever made it into the vernacular like these others, which all have their root in scripture: I bet you didn’t know that…‘I’ll have his head on a platter’, ‘an eye for an eye’, ‘bite the dust‘, ‘a drop in a bucket’, ‘my cup runneth over’, and ‘Woe is me’, all came from stories in the Bible! Perhaps ‘poured out’ has never become a catch phrase because there’s no Sunday School stories that feature it. Unless you count the woman with the alabaster jar (Matthew 26). Bottom line, being poured out is draining. There is a nuance when Paul says it, however, of purpose.
The apostle Paul used that phrase in his letter to the church in Phillipi when he said that he had been super stressed out over the heavy challenge of bringing the reality of the news that God, in flesh, came for everybody who can bridge their own doubt to take his hand in faith, and that that grace was not just for the chosen people of God. Why so stressed, Paul? Because it was seemingly blasphemous information that he was a witness of in his very body. He understandably felt pretty freaked out over whether he ought to care about his ultimate success in conveying the message as he did. He shows his back and forth in several places, and I just love it because he was honestly conflicted. And I feel that way too. Rising to the occasion has it’s punishment and it’s prize.
In 2 Corinthians 11:16-33 , Paul gives us an emotional laundry list of the ways life has thrashed him around nearly to death but never past the pulse of faith. He makes some gorgeous charges and comments on how the whole ministry thing went for him in his last letter, 2 Timothy. And again, as he said to the Philippians, he was pretty much AT the end of his rope and describing the view. A postcard from the edge.
2 Timothy 4:6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith….17 the Lord stood with me and gave me strength.
Yeah, this writing about frailty thing has NOT been that bad. Really, I can’t complain. I have, and I will, you know, because I’m a marshmallow, but I don’t have a leg to stand on. Not standing next to Paul. So, If sharing the achey-breaky side of vulnerability has been harder than I expected, there’s still a voice inside that says I’m blessed. Blessed are the poor in spirit (poured out spirits). Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.