Three months before graduating from law school, I decided I did not want to be a lawyer.
Two years of interning for a plaintiff’s attorney had shown me that the adversarial system brought out my worst characteristics: pride, aggressiveness, and a compulsive desire to win arguments. I feared that if I spent my life practicing law, these qualities would grow even worse.
So there I was, about to obtain a degree I no longer wanted. The more I agonized over the situation, the more I looked at my law degree as a form of bondage … a trap … a dead end. I grimly looked ahead to a career that held no promise of enjoyment or fulfillment.
The Lord overturned this attitude one Sunday morning when my pastor preached from the book of Philippians. The apostle Paul wrote this epistle from prison. He had been placed in chains because of his determination to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:13-14).
As my pastor explained, there were only two ways that Paul could deal with the chains that bound him to his prison. He could either curse those chains, or he could consecrate them.
To consecrate something means to declare it sacred, to devote it irrevocably to the worship and service of God. Paul chose to consecrate his chains to Christ. Trusting that God was always working for his good (Phil. 1:18-21), Paul could sincerely pray, “This is your situation, my Lord. Show me how I can use it to please and honor you.”
Paul’s choice to dedicate his situation to God contributed to a chain of events that turned the world upside down. It also protected Paul from self-pity and gave him such great freedom that he mentions “joy” or “rejoicing” fourteen times in this letter—which is written from prison!
As I listened to that sermon, I realized that I had been cursing my law degree for months. I had been doubting God’s care, grumbling in my spirit, and looking for an avenue of escape.
After the worship service, I walked to the altar and knelt before the Lord. I confessed my sinful attitude and asked God to forgive me for the negative, unbelieving thoughts I had nurtured for months. Then I explicitly consecrated my law degree to him, promising to use my legal training to serve him and any clients he would bring to me.
When I left church, I felt a peace I’d not known for months. Three hours later I received a phone call from a complete stranger, who introduced me to the concept of biblical mediation and arbitration.
Fifteen months later, I helped to found the Christian Conciliation Service of Montana, which eventually grew into Peacemaker Ministries. I had the privilege of serving that ministry for thirty years and seeing God use it to reconcile people around the globe.
I have consecrated many other difficult issues to the Lord over the years, but have rarely seen him move so swiftly to solve my dilemmas. Even so, I’ve always been blessed with a clear conscience and peace of mind when I committed my chains to him.
What About You?
What kind of chains are you faced with today? A difficult marriage, rebellious teenager, or critical in-law? A job that seems to be going nowhere (or no job at all), or a co-worker who delights to irritate you? A prolonged illness or the unavoidable decline of aging?
Whatever your chains are, you have only two choices: you can either curse them or consecrate them to the Lord. May God give you the same grace he gave to Paul, so that you too can say, “This is your situation, my Lord. Show me how I can use it to please and honor you.”
– Ken Sande
- Who provided the ultimate example of consecrating a difficult situation to the Lord? (Luke 22:42; Luke 23:46)
- What kind of chains have you been feeling lately? How have you dealt with them?
- What good has God accomplished by allowing his people to struggle and suffer at times? (Gen. 50:15-21; John 15:1-3; Rom. 5:1-5; 2 Cor. 1:3-5; 1 Pet. 2:18-21)
- What would it look like, in practical terms, for you to consecrate your situation to the Lord today?
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© 2013 Ken Sande
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