Yesterday I told you about my days in a Marine Corps Quonset hut in Okinawa in 1958. It was an intense time living among those whose lifestyle I found nauseating and empty. I can trace the acceptance of my circumstance and the shift of my focus to a single verse of Scripture. When I happened upon it, it seemed to leap from the page. I found myself like author Annie Dillard, who, upon realizing a vast number of things in the flash of a moment, exclaimed, “I had been my whole life a bell, and never knew it until at that moment I was lifted and struck.”
It was late on a Sunday evening. I was on one of those rickety old Oriental buses as it weaved and bobbed its way back to the base. Everyone else around me was in a drunken stupor or snoring in an exhausted sleep. I was sitting in the back seat, thumbing through my new copy of the Amplified New Testament with the aid of a flashlight, and there it was, waiting to be discovered . . . to be believed . . . to be put into action. Philippians 3:10 said all I needed to hear:
[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death.
I thought, “That’s it . . . that is everything in one grand statement.
“I want to know Him. I also want to model the power outflowing from His resurrection. And I certainly want to be continually transformed into His likeness . . . which requires accepting my share of suffering.”
From the moment my bell was “lifted up and struck,” oh, the difference it has made! I remember it well, like it happened last month.
Now, why would I take your time to serve up this slice of life? Three reasons. First, because our Lord never wastes times of testing. The pain and struggles and confusion connected with my circumstances only seemed futile and unfair. Second, because His Word holds out hope when all seems hopeless. There are hundreds of other Philippians-three-ten truths awaiting discovery. Third, because turning points aren’t limited to Marine barracks on The Rock.
All three of those principles could come together for you . . . this very year . . . perhaps this very month. I hope so. Then it’ll be your turn to tell it, so remember it well.