"And now the end is near" - Just those five words are enough to bring the voice of Frank Sinatra ringing into the memories of most of us.
You don't have to be a lover of 50's music to know his music. Or 60's music. Or 70's music. Or 80's music. Or 90's music.
Yeah, Sinatra's career spanned more than half a century. One of the best-selling music artists of all time, Sinatra sold more than 150 million records globally. His best known song, which is saying a lot, was "My Way."
What many folks don't know about that song might interest you --- Sinatra DETESTED singing that song!! (That was his word, not mine.) He didn't write the song, hated boastfulness in others, and was concerned that his audiences would see his performances of that tune as a "self-aggrandizing tribute."
Way before Sinatra ever had such concerns, the Apostle Paul wrestled with how to best tell the church at Philippi how to walk out their faith. When you get inside the heart of this "least of all the apostles" you find a heart that beats with a deep humility. But sometimes the best answer to the question of how to do something is as simple as it is obvious - "Do it my way."
So, as he is sitting in prison and wrapping up his letter to the Philippians, Paul has no idea if he'll ever see them again. Paul calls them, "my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown." He wants these people who he loves so deeply to be able to stand firm in their faith, and he's searching his mind, heart and memory for the key things to remember, the best illustrations to drive home his point.
The Holy Spirit brings these words out of Paul's mouth - "Whatever you've learned or heard from me or seen in me PUT IT INTO PRACTICE and the God of peace will be with you." The simplified version - "Do it my way."
He's not being exclusive here, as though there were no other way to walk out a walk of faith. What he IS saying is this. "If you want to see the life and power of Christ increase in your life, and you want to learn how to do it well; then do what I did. I've done it well."
The logic applies to anything you want to excel at. Find someone who's an expert, a person who's developed incredible skill and broad accomplishments; then do what they did. They didn't do it perfectly, of course. Neither will you. But if you want to be "one of the best" in anything, you begin by learning from and emulating the best of the best.
That's what Paul was saying. Follow me as I follow Christ.
The underlying lesson, one that is easy to miss, is that we are all on a road that leads SOMEWHERE. Where will the road you're on take you? Is that where you want to go?
There are times when one just wants to hop in the car and wander, just to see where you end up. But that's a fun diversion for a holiday or vacation, not a wise approach to life.
Do you KNOW where you're going? Do you TRULY want to end up where the present road will take you? If not, then you ought to find someone who IS HEADED to a place you'd like to end up, and FOLLOW THEM!