“The angel said to those who were standing before him, ‘Take off his filthy clothes.’ And to him he said, ‘See, I have taken your guilt away from you, and I will clothe you with festal apparel’” (Zechariah 3:4).

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Before I came into this world, God knew me. A lifetime, a moment, a time I don’t quite understand but already lived; scripture is full of clues. I was sent into the world, into this life, with a mission, from my Father, that was all my own, to complete, but I strayed; I fell short of the glory of the One who sent me. And I would come to know him in a way that not even angels do; I would know his grace.

Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry). On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient. These are the ways you also once followed, when you were living that life. But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all! (Colossians 3:5-11).

But my Father knew I would fall, so at the right time, God sent his Son into the world, not only to rescue me, but to adopt me into sonship (Galatians 4:4-5). Jesus was God who became man in the flesh to bear under the burdens and temptations of the flesh (Hebrews 2:17-18). Jesus willingly left a realm of all power, all knowledge, and all presence for a world where he had to learn to walk and talk as a child. Jesus hungered where he had never hungered before. Jesus tired and needed to sleep; yet as God, he did not weary or sleep (Isaiah 40:28). Jesus wept and felt anguish of heart in the deep emotions of the human spirit (John 11:33-34). Jesus felt the pain of the whips as they beat him unmercifully, before they drove iron spikes through his flesh, and nailed him to a cross. Jesus became man to be a faithful High Priest to help me in my weakness (Hebrews 4:14-16).

At just the right time, when we were still powerless, Jesus willingly died (Romans 5:6). My Father’s mercy changed my heart, and his loving discipline trains me in his righteous ways, so that I might grow in his holiness. Therefore, I run the race God has set before me, by keeping my eyes on Jesus; the initiator and perfecter of my faith (Hebrews 12:2). And when I lay my head down and take my last breath, Jesus will welcome me home from my long journey; his good and faithful servant. “The angel said to those who were standing before him, ‘Take off his filthy clothes.’ And to him he said, ‘See, I have taken your guilt away from you, and I will clothe you with festal apparel’” (Zechariah 3:4).

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him (Colossians 3:12-17).

So what if I suffer in this life? So what if I have to bite my tongue; so what if it’s not fair? So what if I lose everything I have; or give it all away? So what if I’m beaten within an inch of my life; or someone simply cuts me off in traffic? So what? Aren’t my gains in this flesh, in this world, actually my loss, and my losses really my gains? Think about that. Although I press forward, have I yet reached the goal? No. Therefore, “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” Consider prayerfully all the Apostle Paul is revealing here.

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:7-14).

By the way, you may have noticed a third person title and a first person post. The title refers to all of us who have been called according to God’s good purpose; as does my personal experience; the promises are for all of us. “He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Timothy 1:9-10). We are God’s elect. May our hearts burn hot to share our Good News with the world!

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