… being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (verse 6)
When we moved into our previous home, the backyard had a steep, sloping garden running the full length of the house, completely dominated by unruly and overgrown juniper. For those of you who have yet to encounter it, juniper is a low-lying evergreen shrub, with rather prickly boughs. To my own eye, it’s pleasing enough while small, low to the ground and richly green. But overgrown, it’s simply a bramble mass.
My wife was keen to get rid of it. For me, all I saw was a vast amount of work! Even though it clearly needed to be done, I was not in the least bit keen to get started. She, on the other hand, started right in! She enlisted our kids to hack away, making an irreparable dent in that juniper mass, then recruiting a friend to go at it full-bore with a chainsaw. Her forte, though, is not job-completion. That task falls to me. All of those severed branches needed carting away, each stump and root system (over 60 of them, I’m sure) needing to be dug out by hand. It was a long, arduous, time-consuming project. But the end result (years later!) was a hillside cleared of the rag-tag bramble and growing colourful azaleas, rhododendrons, hydrangeas, hostas and lilies. Much more pleasing to the eye!
The Lord God, at work in our lives, is, at the same time, both initiator and completer. He didn’t have to be talked into the project. Not at all. He himself dreamed it up, before the foundation of time, pre-planning and entering in, fully aware of the sacrificial cost it would entail. I am so grateful.
But he’s not one to be satisfied simply with a good start. No. The project he has in mind needs to be brought to completion. That word – "completion" – is loaded. It has overtones of perfection. What’s contemplated here is not a so-so job. Rather it’s got a divine end-goal in mind, one that gives full expression to the very heart of God himself.
That “completion” is being worked in me, in you, in all of us who are “in Christ Jesus.” As we look at our own lives, there is so very much still to be done. What’s been started has often left debris and wreckage that still needs to be cleared away. What’s still left untouched is desperately in need of renovation and renewal. Will it ever get done? Will we ever be more like Jesus? Is there hope?
The answer is simple. Yes. We have the Father’s word on it. The work that’s been started in Christ is the guarantee that it will indeed be completed. Not until the day of Christ Jesus, mind you. That day is our future hope. But in the meantime, we have confidence that the expert hand of our God is doing good work, even when we can’t quite see it.
The shambles of uprooted juniper will be transformed to the beauty of a thriving garden. Just wait.
Thank you, Father, that I have your word on it. I am therefore confident. Your work will be done, brought to completion, perfectly reflecting your plan and design, right here in my life. So I yield myself to you afresh. Carry on the hard, sometimes painful, work right now. I entrust myself into your expert hands.
Reflect: Look back. Remember the “beginning” the Lord has worked in your life. Where did he start? What has he done? Give thanks.
Look ahead. What does he have left to do? There are likely so many things, but focus on one, big or small. Thank the Lord that it, too, will not remain unfinished.
Photo by Alexandra Kharchenko on Unsplash