Encountered a phrase in my reading this morning that I think could be understood two different ways. Taken one way, it refers to a future realization . . . taken the other, it is a reminder of a present reality. Both understandings are true . . . and both understandings have the same impact . . . motivation.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:4-6 ESV)
When I’m reading, I’m on the lookout for “commands to obey.” Here there’s three of them: 1) rejoice in the Lord always; 2) let your reasonableness, or gentleness, be known to everyone; 3) be anxious for nothing and pray about everything. But what stood out this morning was the small statement of motivation embedded in the middle of them . . . “the Lord is at hand.”
The Lord is at hand . . . in that He’s coming soon? Or, the Lord is at hand in that His presence can be known? Future realization, or present reality? Yes!
Both are true and both provide fuel for the fire of obedience . . . both elevate obedience from a check-the-box exercise and weave into our very fabric a desire to do what we do because the Lord is at hand.
I can rejoice in the LORD always because He is at hand. He is coming again and so I can wake every morning, look to the sky and smile as I wonder, “Perhaps today?” I can rejoice as I anticipate that the day is soon approaching when the way of this world and the corruption of sin will be gone and mine will be to gather before the throne in the splendor of holiness and fix my eyes on the Lamb who redeemed me. But until that I day, I can also rejoice always because the Lord is at hand . . . He is near . . . and I anticipate going through this day with His abiding presence. As I draw near to God, He says He will draw near to me (James 4:8) . . . His ever-present Spirit leading . . . empowering . . . encouraging. Rejoice . . . the Lord is at hand.
Because He is coming soon, I want to model the gentle character of Christ that He might be known. The Master will return at an hour we think not and I want to be found a faithful ambassador when He does. No greater joy than imagining Him, when He returns, finding me being who He’s called me to be and doing what He’s asked me to do. But being like Christ in a world which despises the things of God can be a bit intimidating. But, He is at hand . . . the Lord is present . . . and greater is He that is in me, than anyone or anything that is in the world (1John 4:4).
And, because the Lord is at hand and His return is imminent, I need not be anxious about anything. The anxieties of the day, though very real, can all be placed in the context of the risen, ascended, soon to return King of Kings. Weeping may last for a night . . . but joy comes in the morning (Ps. 30:5). And because He is ever present . . . because His Spirit intercedes with my spirit . . . because He has promised never to leave me nor forsake me . . . I can bring Him my petitions and know a peace that passes all understanding (Php. 4:7).
The Lord is at hand . . . soon to return . . . even now, always present. What a motivator . . . for rejoicing always . . . for making known my reasonableness to everyone . . . for resting in Him in all things.
By His grace . . . for His glory . . .