Today’s challenge is difficult too. I’m supposed to fill in the blanks: “For to me, to live is __________, and to die is _______.” If I am totally honest, at times my options have included:
• For to me, to live is having a sense of purpose, and to die can’t happen until the stuff on my to-do list is checked off.Of course I know what should go in the blanks. It comes from Paul’s letter to the Philippians. He was in jail and a death sentence was possible. He wasn’t afraid to die, yet his generous heart wanted life. His reasons were far nobler than most of mine.
• For to me, to live is a blast, and to die is the last thing I want to do.
• For to me, to live is far too difficult, and to die sounds like a better choice.
• For to me, to live is being creative, and to die is going to be hard on my kids who have to decide what to do with my artistic creations.
• For to me, to live is tiring, and to die is a good long rest.
For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again. (Philippians 1:21-26)If he lived, he could serve his brothers and sisters in Christ. They needed him and he was determined to help them. He wanted to be with Christ in glory, but was willing to put that desire aside and do what was best for the people around him.
I’m not that unselfish. Sometimes I want to be needed for the sense of purpose it gives me, not for what I can do for others. Sometimes I want to go to glory because I am tired of the work that God has given me to do here. When life goes well, I don’t want to die. When life is hard, I mutter that I want to go home.
Again, the apostle Paul is a rebuke. Being a Christian is not about me, but about making the best use of what God gives me so that I can glorify Jesus Christ, whether in life or in death.
As I pack up for this holiday, I’m trying very hard to listen for His direction and take what He tells me to take, and think as He encourages me to think. With Him in charge, experience has taught me that my worries are groundless. Faith says the same thing. I need to stop listening to my “what ifs” and just trust Him.