He Promises His Presence

By Beth Ann Olesen

In Women’s Bible Study last week, we studied Philippians 2:12-18. Here is a link to the text if you are interested.

In verse 12, Paul commands the Church of Philippi to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” I was struck by the wording here. And I want to state for the record that I am absolutely not a Biblical scholar. What I believe Paul is saying here is that working out my salvation is going to be a journey that not only didn’t end the day I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior, but in fact had only just begun. Each trial, each temptation, each act of my flesh requires me to work out my salvation. To remember that there is nothing I can do to earn it. To remember to lean on it as my strength and comfort. To remember God’s grace. To sit among my imperfections, failings, and flaws and know that I am made new in Christ.

John Piper says that this text is a promise (verse 11), followed by a command (verse 12), followed by the power to fulfill it (verse 13). This command, this working out, doesn’t promise easy. It doesn’t promise a life free from pain, mistakes, or faltering. But it does promise something so much greater.

He promises His presence.

On Sunday, Anthony spoke of wisdom and what it means to have a beautiful life. And I started to think about how his description of true wisdom and a beautiful life fits in with this idea of working out my salvation, especially in the last couple of weeks.

I’ve begun to picture the Lord as an old friend. One who comes to join me as I sit in silence in the darkness with my head bowed, allowing myself to forget God’s sovereignty and goodness. And every so often, He slowly reaches over and gently lifts my chin and asks me to see His beauty. The promise of His presence as I work out my salvation. As I admit to my weaknesses, my doubts, and my fears.

Jacob eating Spam. That’s beautiful.

Abundant sunshine after hours of cold rain. Trunk-or-treaters squealing in delight. Trees set ablaze with color. All reminders that God fulfills His promises. He gifts us His presence.