January 11, 2010

To Live is Christ — means not my will . . .

Almost certainly these verses begin to pinch. Yesterday we drove around the Sonora valley and again wound up looking at vacation properties. At first it was fun, but after awhile, instead of wanting to do whatever my husband thought was best, I began to think about my wants. Spending lots of time in the desert isn’t on the list.

This is directly opposite to the attitude Paul had as he was thinking of his choices. He was in jail and facing who knows what. He considered that he might be condemned to death, yet he also knew that prayers were going up for his release. He wrote to those who prayed for him . . .   

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. (Philippians 1:21–24)
Paul was more concerned to do what was best for others than he was about having the best for himself. He knew that these folks at Philippi still needed him, and if he died, they would not be as well off as if he lived. Heaven tugged at him, but the needs of others was also important.

For me, going home and staying home sounds good (home could also be that one reserved for me in heaven), but staying here means being willing to do what is needful for others. That includes my husband, who needs to plan for retirement and figure out what he wants to do with the rest of his life. With CLL that may not be a long time, but we don’t know.

A warmer winter appeals to him, and I’ve been enjoying it too, but yesterday for some reason, living in two places lost its appeal. I became frustrated, irritated, and even  homesick.

Did Paul feel like that at times as he sat in his confinement? Was he ever fed up with always being there for others and just wanted to go “home” and be with Jesus?

These verses say that he was hard-pressed between the two. That word has many meanings. The one I most identify with is that he felt like he was in a cattle squeeze and could not move. Conflicting emotions and desires pressed him so he felt immobilized. He knew he could not make the more appealing choice of being with Christ, which he said was “far better” because, in this case, it would have been selfish to turn away from the needs of those others who received this letter from him.

With this, God has diagnosed my attitude. I don’t want to make the choice for others but for me. However, knowing what is going on in my heart does not change my attitude or resolve the conflict that I feel. The only way out of this is surrender, not to the wishes of others (my husband has not made up his mind yet anyway), but to the will of God.

Jesus said, “Not my will but Thine be done” because He knew that the will of God is always best, even though it was going to take Him to a horrible death. I might not know yet what the will of God involves (I will likely not be crucified), but I do know that I will have no peace until I can say the same thing as Jesus said, not just because I want out of this cattle squeeze, but because I really mean it.

Photo: Townsend's Livestock Equipment

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