"For me, to Live is Christ, and to DiE is gain. 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. But to remain in the flesh is more necessAry on your account." (Philippians 1:21-24)
I sometimes struggle with the fact that I've been so sick for so long and am still alive, what with heaven being so great and all. The prophet Elijah got to that point when running for his life from Jezebel:
"And he asked that he might die, saying, "It is enough now, O LORD; take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers." (1 Kings 19:4a)
How many times I utter the same thing: That's enough now, O Lord. I am so, so tired... But the LORD didn't take Elijah's life. Instead, He sent Elijah food and water: strength to continue his journey. I guess that's why we aren't supposed to choose when we depart to be with Christ. Dollars to donuts, we'd give up too soon.
Jesus once met a man who was possessed by a demon named "Legion" (the term legion refers to a division in the Roman army consisting of somewhere between 3,000 and 6,000 soldiers). He freed the man from the demon(s), and the man--shunned by his community--begged Jesus to take him along. Jesus said no. Jesus said, "Go home to your friends and tell them how much the LORD has done for you, and how He has had mercy on you." [See Mark 5:1-20 for the full text].
That must have been painful to hear. Confusing and devastating. The healed man wanted desperately to be with his Savior, to be with someone who actually loved him, someone who wouldn't shun him for his past, and here his Savior didn't want to be with him. Or so it would appear. But the fact is, Jesus knew the man had more important things to do.
You and I already know the truth. We already know what the LORD has done for us, and how He has had mercy on us. We can wait to be with our Savior if waiting is what it takes for others to marvel at what we know, if waiting is what Jesus asks us to do, knowing without a doubt that God will always give us the strength to walk as far as we need to go. Yes, to die is gain, but heaven isn't going anywhere: Jesus is holding those gates open. He died for the weaknesses that makes us want to give up and patiently gives us the strength to run another mile and point out that fact to others, "So that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:26a)
Suggested verse to repeat if it's a difficult day is from Psalm 71:9b
PRC buddies, remember to breathe!
"Forsake me not -------> 5 count inhale
when my strength is spent." -------> 5 count exhale