Driving To Mississippi

     We all know that Mississippi is right next to Alabama. It would make sense to understand that we share similar topography, people and many attitudes. But in the minds of most of the residents, Alabama and Mississippi are definitely two different things. One thing we do have in common is that both states find themselves looked down upon by many of our supposed betters in the rest of the country. But folks do still keep moving here, don’t they?

     At any rate, this week I’ll be driving over to the eastern edge of Mississippi to preach in a gospel meeting for the Hill’s Chapel church near Booneville. Of necessity I’ll cross the state line a number of times. I don’t understand why I enjoy that process so much, but I do. Maybe it reminds me of the faded truth that the United States is a federal republic made up of formerly constitutionally independent states and commonwealths. I do know that when Ginger and I went on a car trip with the boys we always made a big deal out of going from one state to another. We have the pictures (somewhere) to prove it.

     Sunday night I was on the Natchez Trace and came across the state line, homeward bound. My mind brightened a bit as I knew I was closer home. But we know there is another use of the word “state.” We find it in Philippians 4:11-13: “Not that I speak in respect of want; for I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know how to be abased and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Paul had in mind the physical state of his life and his spiritual attitude toward it. We have read the passages in which Paul describes the various challenges he faced doing the Lord’s work. No doubt he had it tough. But as he made plain here, he did not allow his momentary circumstances to define him. He had gained from his relationship with Jesus Christ an abiding contentment that saw him through the difficult times.

     You may know that the word “do” in Philippians 4:13 can mean “endure.” That may be a very fine way to look at this life: we endure as we move from state to state. We can be sure that we will not always be in one “state.” Just like driving to Mississippi we move from one to the next. The key to success in every state of life is to rely on the strength of Christ.