I was an uncle long before I became a father.
That means I have watched a lot of children’s movies. One of my unlikely favorites is The Princess Bride. I don’t love the story and it certainly has no deeper meaning to me. The thing I love about the movie is the quirky humor that is spread across the movie. There are so many funny phrases that are recognizable to anyone who has watched the movie.
The best is when Inigo Montoya finally grows tired of one of his counterparts calling situations “inconceivable.”
“You keep using that word,” Montoya says. “I do not think it means what you think it means.”
There have been so many times in my life that I have wanted to say that to people. One time happened last week when we were on vacation with my in-laws.
We were discussing how well things were going on the trip and my mother-in-law said, “God always takes care of me.”
I did all I could not to disagree. Who am I to tell someone that God doesn’t take care of them? But honestly, Montoya’s famous quote was running through my head.
This woman is a diabetic who has had carpal tunnel surgery, open heart surgery, and most recently had a small tumor on her spinal column that threatened to take her ability to walk. Only 18 months after the surgery to remove that tumor, she is just now able to walk without a cane and, even then, it is only for a short distance.
Not many people look at that as the Lord pouring out blessings from Heaven. In fact, most people would be singing the chorus to the world’s most famous song, “Why Me?”
But not Evonne.
As I was trying to find a way not to burst her bubble, it hit me.
She really understands the meaning of Philippians 4:13.
Now that the guy with rainbow hair has stopped bringing a John 3:16 sign to sporting events, Philippians 4:13 is the Bible verse most likely to be seen at arenas across the country. The verse says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Since people don’t read the rest of Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi, they tend to read the verse that somehow Jesus will make them champion athletes by “strengthening” them.
But that isn’t what Paul was saying. Paul wasn’t even a Dallas Cowboys fan.
My mother-in-law’s faith is what the verse is all about.
In the verses before number thirteen, Paul says, “I have learned in whatever state I am in to be content.”
Paul had learned to have much and have little. He had been a church starter and a prisoner. He had traveled joyfully and he had been shipwrecked and bitten by snakes.
It is a lot easier to love that verse when you think Jesus is making you have superhuman athletic ability, but that isn’t it at all.
A current song by the Christian band Mercy Me called “Even If” explains the thought pretty well.
“I know You're able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
I know the sorrow, I know the hurt
Would all go away if You'd just say the word
But even if You don't
My hope is You alone.”
Philippians 4:13 is the statement of someone who has been through a lot and they are still thankful to have their faith and live in it.
That’s my mother-in-law.
When she first told us that God took care of her, I couldn’t help but question her. But looking back, she knows that on good days and bad, God has always taken care of her.
That’s faith, and it does mean what she thinks it means.