Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence (Philippians 2:12a ESV)
It is a father’s desire – may it be biological, spiritual or even professional – that their “children” will take their lessons and obey not only in their presence but even in their absence. This is the true test of the influence and impact of earthly fathers.
What about our Heavenly Father? He is never absent, always present – even though we sometimes think and act as if it’s the opposite. In fact, He is not merely present but actively involved in our lives through his Spirit in us. He both guides us and gives us strength.
for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13 ESV)
What does God call us to be? Lights – pointing to the amazing grace made available to everyone – in the midst of a confused and suffering world.
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, (Philippians 2:14, 15 ESV)
Finally, some real-time encouragement for recent events:
and I trust in the Lord that shortly I myself will come also. (Philippians 2:24 ESV)
Being in a different country away from family and friends, we miss out on many events back home. Particularly this year, we have a desire to visit – even multiple times if possible. Unlike previous years where we basically defaulted to a “no, we cannot go”, this year I feel we should be more prayerful in asking God for His plans for us regarding trips to the Philippines. If He has a purpose for us there (like to be an encouragement), I believe God will make happen.