I vividly remember years ago coming across the verse that shouted to me because it described my desire so accurately, “Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.” Philippians 3:8, 9. I immediately committed it to memory because it resonated so deeply with who I am.
It reminded me of the summer I turned 14. My closest friends were changing and I had tough choices to make. I knew if I attempted to go along with the crowd for the sake of clinging to these friendships, it would ultimately lead to compromise. I had hoped that I could choose to follow Christ and still go with the flow but the fork in the road was too distinct. I experienced the ultimate embarrassment of eating lunch alone as a freshman. I felt abandoned, angry, and exhausted at the inward battle going on. Yet it was at that age of 14 that I realized if God is who He says He is; I’d have to sacrifice my own comfort to be who He was calling me to be.
A unique thing began to happen. Instead of confiding in a best friend or talking on the phone in the evenings, I journaled. I prayed like I never had to pray before. I confessed my fears and dreams to Christ and for awhile, no one else. I cried. What began as obedience & duty soon turned into joy & anticipation of what my Savior would share next. Lonely days turned into one l-o-n-g prayer. At the time I thought I would always resent that season as one of lost friendships and awkwardness, but I now remember it as a sweet season of my life that defined who I am.
It was while I was hitting tennis balls up against the barn wall angry at not being able to please other people, while I was skipping school because I couldn’t face the darkness I felt, while I was curled up on my bed writing and pouring out my heart, that I learned all things are loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ. For a 14 yr old, friends turning their backs, lost popularity, knowing you’re missing out on what’s happening over the weekend- is loss. Giving up those things was my first lesson in dying to me and being found in Christ. I will always grieve the loss of dear friends but what I gained in Christ is incomparable.
I resolutely decided that even if I had to be alone for 4 years of high school I would be willing for the sake of being found in Christ. Oh, but God was so gracious & generous with this emotional, fragile kid. I didn’t eat lunch alone forever…and in fact stumbled upon an eclectic group of students who similarly had lost friends, surrendered to Christ, and were willing to follow Him regardless of what everyone around us chose. What started as “thank God I at least can sit with these people and not look like a complete loser” turned into “thank God for these lifelong friends who hold me accountable, know me & my family inside and out, whose loyalty and prayers have carried me through the past 15 years. What looked like loss ended up laughable compared to all I gained.
Me & Heather- the friend from high school I loved so much that I set up with my cousin. Now not only friend of 15+ years but also my dear cousin.
Kristi & Jill...we proved last month that we haven't outgrown slumber parties.
Greg & Kristi- still high school sweethearts and Greg still thinks I'm 14...I guess some things you can't outgrow.
one of these men I've been friends with
since I was 14...& the other is my husband. No one can tell them apart anyway so they both get a shout-out in my
At age 17 I rediscovered what it means to lose all and be found in Him when our family filed bankruptcy,
watched our suburban drive away without us in it, and moved north for a fresh start. I watched my parents in humility and brokenness try various jobs to make ends meet, accept help, and pray for groceries weekly. Ahh…but the excellence of knowing Christ was so deep and so real. As a family we chose to count the material things as rubbish that we previously valued. My parents modeled for us what it is to be found in Christ; completely dependant when there is no pride or bank account to stand on. There is something raw, terrifying, and yet awe-inspiring when outward things are stripped away to leave me standing with exposed heart in front of a God who is Enough.
As the Word of God works, it is constantly fresh, immeasurably deep, always speaking to where I am. Last week this verse came to mind again and I realized that Paul says he ‘counts ALL things loss’…not merely the vain things, not just the habits and sin we die to when we choose Christ. I’ve had seasons of losing friends, losing popularity, losing material things… but I’ve realized in the last couple weeks that sometimes God calls us to die to the good dreams, too. I expect to die to the sinful, unappealing parts of myself. I know God requires me to be ‘transformed’. But sometimes I have beautiful ideas and aspirations (they even include God!) that have to be counted as loss.
I’ve talked to two dear friends in the past week who have had to suffer the loss of good things- of beautiful dreams. Now empty, left with the question, “Is Christ enough?” When I think I’ve answered this question it comes again in another form. Or I pray and watch as someone I love wrestles with it.
“If I never marry and never have companionship on earth…” “If I do marry and my marriage sucks and might always suck…” “If I never get to use my gifts the way I want to use them…” “If I never complete an adoption even though I’ve believed God’s put it in my heart…” "If I keep losing babies & fear pregnancy..." “If anxiety always causes me to walk with a limp…” “If people I care about believe lies about me and my reputation shatters from all I built…” “If I never see rebuilding and restoration in my lifetime on earth…”
Is He still who He says He is? Am I willing to say even good things are rubbish compared to gaining Christ? Can I die to myself to simply be found in Him? Can I grieve my losses and still praise Him because I know the excellence of the knowledge of Him? Is Christ alone still a gain? Is He Enough?