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TRIBEWORK is about consuming the process of life, the journey, together.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Count it all Loss… and all is Gain

Photo by Vincent Chin on Unsplash

Hundreds of wet pages, glued together by moisture, reflections from ten years ago. Ruined. Unsalvageable. Along with other precious items. Storm-damaged.
So many documents that we have no way of restoring. Like the precious jewellery items my wife had stolen three years ago — not worth much in financial terms, but so beloved.
The diary pages that we were tempted to throw out are my record of a time when life was arduous. To reflect over those times is a gift of knowing God’s faithfulness that got us all through that difficult time as a family. (Thankfully we invested a few hours separating the leaves one-by-one.)
This event reminds me of the times when people have suffered total loss, not just to potentially lose a few years of journal entries. And even as we reconciled what had occurred, my wife losing several treasured keepsakes too, we were given cause, even in our loss, of the significant things we still had.
It reminded us also of those famous words of the apostle Paul in Philippians 3:8 —
“I consider everything a loss
because of the surpassing worth
of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” 
There were tears shed today, not my own, but my wife’s, as she has held these possessions for, in some cases, thirty years and more. For me, there was a sense of disbelief as I recalled just how much time I spent journalling, and how many family reminiscences there are in them. It is a genuine family record of those times. One sweet thing, however, was the service my five-year-old son gave to separating the leaves of paper.

We never grieve insignificant losses. Loss, in what it is, involves the greatest of sacrifices; of having to let go that which we would never freely let go of. But when we contrast these losses with Christ, all, even though it is all to us in this life, all, is vanity. That can seem illogical in this day, but that is how good Christ is, in context of the heavenly realms, which is everything of Christ we are, in this life, fundamentally unaware of.
And then there is freedom — all the freedom we enjoy — I, my wife, my son, my daughters, all my family. None of us are presently in slavery, and none of us, for my thinking, ever have been. Then there’s the topic of the ANZACs — the commemoration upcoming, only days away. Many of those who were gunned down even hours into their tour of duty volunteered out of patriotism. We know many have given up their lives so we could be free. How could we spurn that freedom?
Of course, the ultimate expression of freedom-giving is Christ, Himself. He gave Himself up to be scourged, insulted, condemned, and to be hung on a tree. Christ experienced loss that we would gain.
The ultimate expression of faith in Jesus
is to follow Him and die to self
so that others might live.
Not that we would gain in any way. Our loss for another’s gain; their loss for still another’s gain.
This is why we can suffer no loss even though we experience loss. That can sound harsh, even wrong.
Indeed, the purpose of loss is to teach us for the next time; God is to be got in the original loss, deep as deep can go, so that we might know true belief in God to get us through subsequent losses in the way that we know we will soon be compensated. This is why Paul counted all loss as gain.
God is to be got in the first loss, and if not, in the now-loss. Yes, get Him, in your loss, now.
Jesus is a God intimately acquainted with loss.
He knows you in it,
so you may know Him in it.
Why is loss the shortcut to gain? Loss shows us how fleeting life here is. Gain is ours as we sow into the next life. This is paradoxically the practice of sowing authentically into all our key relationships in this life; to make the biggest loving impact we can.
From loss, through pain, to Jesus, to learn the cosmic lesson in loss, to reach for eternity, to look back from there, to do in this life what we can only do now. That’s the purpose of gain in loss.

When we count every gain in this life as loss and all loss in this life as gain we comprehend eternity and we understand God. That, we all appreciate, is a journey. None of us arrives there in this life.

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