Philippians 1:22-23 “If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for Me. Yet, which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard-pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.”
The Christian lives in a constant state of bifurcation or segmentation. Our human flesh connects us to this material world in which we have this treasure of Christ’s life in a jar of clay (2 Corinthians 4:7). The day of redemption for our physicality has not yet come. As in the words of Romans 8:23, we groan waiting for the day of the “redemption of our bodies.” We get sick, we struggle, and we daily face and fight our weaknesses.
And yet, living here in time and space, we have the opportunity to shine the life and gospel of Jesus Christ. Indeed, Christ has put His people here to be a light to the world (Matthew 5:14). Here we minister, teach, give merciful care, and help others in the name of Jesus. Here there is fruitful labor for the kingdom, and we daily seek first His kingdom and righteousness, trusting in Him for our daily needs (Matthew 6:33).
But still, as we live each day seeking to honor Christ and serve people in His name, there is an inner yearning unfulfilled. The Christian, because he is a Christian, is not satisfied here; we are made for a different land. Like those Old Testament saints in Hebrews 11, we too are looking forward to the “city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God (11:10). Like they, we too are “Longing for a better country – a heavenly one (11:16).”
Those who live near to God’s heart in this journey on earth have a perpetual dissatisfaction with “here”, longing to be “there.” Such was Paul’s dilemma.
Paul too longed to be there with Christ! To be with Christ was, in Paul’s judgment, “far better” than here. However, there was something else in Paul; although he yearned to depart and be with Christ, still there was a strong and committed acquiescence because he was willing to leave the decision in God’s hands. If God allowed him to live on earth, Paul was willing to serve diligently and faithfully. But if God was ready to call him “home”, then Paul joyfully yielded to the call of His Redeemer. He was willing to go or to stay. He did not know what to choose, so he left the decision with God.
We cannot do better than this – leave the decision with God. If God wills your earthly continuance, then be prepared to serve. But if God calls you home, then be prepared to go home. In this way, we are ready no matter what God calls us to do. Let us think about what the old Scotsman said to his wife when he was sick, and she fretted that he would die. He said to her, “It matters not, my dear; if I die, then I am with God, but if I live, then God is with me.” Amen – well said.
Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to be ready to do, as you, please. If you want me to continue in this life, then I ask that You give me the strength to serve you well. But if You are ready to take me to my heavenly home, then I am ready to go. Your will be done in me. With such surrender in my heart, I leave the matter with You. Amen.