The words of verse 13 of this passage are frequently quoted on evangelical pamphlets and greeting cards. The familiarity of these words can cause us to dismiss them but this year I hope to use them as a compass for Lent. “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” The words encourage me to ask myself how Christ strengthens me. I believe Christ strengthens me because I trust that I am God’s beloved and I give thanks for that every day. The knowledge and gratitude I speak of is only one step along the way to doing all things through Christ, only one direction on the compass. Let’s consider that direction of knowledge and gratitude “north.”
In the remainder of this passage Paul acknowledges the gifts of the Philippians. In these verses I hear God speaking to me about another direction in doing all things through Christ. I hear God speaking to me about stewardship of time, talent and money. I think that exercising constant prayerful intentionality about being a good steward in all that I do is another direction on the compass. This prayerful intentionality is “south” on the compass for Lent.
Remaining on the compass are east and west. The east and west need to balance the knowledge and gratefulness of being God’s beloved with the prayerful intentionality of reflecting on being a good servant and steward in all things. The “east” leads to a time of extended quiet individual prayer; daily time to listen and engage with God. And the west, the west is home. Home may be literal or home may be a small group or Sunday worship. The “west” is simply a home in which to pray with others.
I hope to use this compass each day of Lent and I pray that it will help me discover how Christ strengthens me so much so that I can do all things through him. You are invited to use it too.