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Pioneers wanted (Life Below Zero)

Life Below Zero is on the National Geographic Channel on Tuesday nights.  It’s about seven people who live in the Alaskan bush near the Arctic Circle.  As you might imagine, living conditions are primitive. They exist without the amenities that most of us take for granted.  Instead, they live off the land, off the grid, in a subsistence manner. One couple lives in a cabin that I think most of us would be comfortable in, but two others live in tents, and the one family (husband, wife, and seven children), move about seasonally in response to hunting and fishing patterns. 

The most interesting thing about these seven people is that only one is a native Alaskan.  The others moved to the area because this is the way they want to live.  They embrace the challenging lifestyle the country imposes upon them.  They truly possess a pioneer spirit. 

While I have absolutely no desire to do what they’re doing, I do have an admiration for their willingness to accept hardship and difficulties in pursuit of their dreams.  They accept obstacles as a way of life.  There’s nothing soft about them.

When Paul writes his brief letter to the disciples at Philippi, he is imprisoned in Rome.  Of course, the Philippians are quite concerned about his well being.  You can almost see them wringing their hands and hear them talking among themselves about Paul’s circumstances.  “It’s such a shame about Paul, isn’t it?  I hope he gets released from prison so he can be out doing the Lord’s will again.” Or, at least that’s the kind of thing most of us would say.

And while we’d be well-intentioned, we’d nonetheless be off the mark.  Paul will write in 1:12, “Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel.” The word translated “advance,” has to do with cutting a path and striking things down to clear the way.  In other words, the kind of things a pioneer does. Paul is saying that his imprisonment has served to pioneer the good news into new territories (i.e., “the whole palace guard”v. 13).  Paul didn’t need to be released from prison to do God’s will --- he was doing it right there in the situation he was in.  In the middle of his less than ideal circumstances he understood that God was not limited, so neither was he.

You don’t have to go to Alaska to be a pioneer.  In fact, you don’t have to go anywhere.  All you have to do is allow God to use your life in whatever way He wants.  Be willing to be stretched, called out of your comfort zone, and continually shaped by our Father. Life is not all sunshine and rainbows, and pioneers understand that and learn to keep moving forward no matter what the circumstances.    
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