Sunday, March 3, 2013

...To Die Is Gain

I wrote this post a few days ago when feeling pretty down.  However, I edited it this day (3/3/2013) before posting it.

Right now, I just want to forget about how that verse in Philippians 1:21 begins, which is "For to me to live is Christ."  Rather, I want to skip to the end of that verse, and the title of this blog post, "to die is gain."  The conclusion of the next two verses speak to my heart at this time as well: "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."

I want what is far better!  I'd rather skip life on earth and rest eternally.  Sometimes, a worldly existence seems like such a trivial and vain striving after the wind.  Am I depressed?  Or am I just tired of ‘chasing the wind?’  I wonder for a moment, then realize my focus is off.  Yes, at times like this I just want to die and get it over with.  The struggles of this world hardly seem worth it.  I think, "What a contrast it is between the magnificent Kingdom of God versus the puny kingdoms of the world!"  I think, "My desire is to depart, for that is far better." 

But, I soon realize that what I really want is to "be with Christ."  Simultaneously, I know with confidence that I can do that here and now.  Even better, I can be in Christ, and He in me, and we in the Father, sharing the same Holy Spirit, His gift to those who believe.

Should I not suffer as Christ suffered?  I don't mean physically.  I mean the loneliness of mind and social rejection that result from separating from the world and its ways.  I understand we are on the battlefield right smack in the middle of enemy territory, an enemy who is the prince of the power of the very air we breathe.  But, suffering is difficult, even impossible, without Him.  I should expect to suffer with Christ.  After all, who am I to escape this suffering and think I can share in the fullness of His glory?

What am I to do?  To make life as a Christian soldier tolerable, I need to constantly align my goal with His, which is to bring many sons into glory.  I need to diligently devote myself to seeking deeper understanding of His eternal purpose, which He has revealed to us in the Mystery, and that through Christ, and by the power of His Spirit, grasp what are the awesome dimensions --breadth, length, height, and depth-- of His glorious plan for those who are called according to His purpose, that we may be filled with all the fullness of Him, and know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge. 

Oh, how I want this!  Knowing Him and His plan quickly transforms the idea of making life 'tolerable' into one of becoming utterly joyful.  His word is able to lift my heart into the heavens and rejoice, again I say rejoice, that my citizenship is with Him, my eternal inheritance is secure, and that He is motivated by unadulterated love to lavish grace upon grace towards me that I may love Him and be in Him until He makes His home with me, even while I walk this earth.

Maybe, I should concern myself with Paul's conclusion, not his opening remarks. For he completes this dilemma about life and death in Philippians 1:25-26 like this, "But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again." 

I don't know who, if anyone, will read this post.  I also don't know whether or not it will make a difference in anyone's life but mine.  But if you, O reader, should be even slightly inclined to look into these things yourself, be encouraged that this is a noble thing indeed, and that your seeking will be rewarded.

Now to him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly than all that we ask or think or imagine, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Eph 3:20-21)

Amen: So be it! So let it be! And so it will be! (Clark)


Randi Jo :) said...

agreed, Dwight!

Embracing the brokenness & dissatisfaction & even disconnect/loneliness we feel from this world is so key to be able to enjoy His presence.

Keeping our eyes focused on Him will be the only thing that will keep us rejoicing! Phil 4:4 giving Him all our brokenness & petitions with Thanksgiving will give us the peace despite what is around us... it will guard our hearts & minds from all the perils & sorrows & things that distract. Phil 4:6-7

We can know that the struggles are even part of His sovereign plan to keep us close to Him, becoming more like Him.

God bless :)

Charislife said...

Hi Dwight,

The verses in question are certainly difficult to understand. The common feeling is fear of death coupled with a clinging to life. I can agree there are times when this world crowds our minds and relief sure does sound good. Then, other times when those thoughts are far from me. From reading what Paul wrote, it doesn't seem like just a moment, but a conclusion he came to.

As is usually the case, Paul is teaching me something here, that is , not to fear death as the world fears death. The fear that the world has is based on an uncertainty of the future. They really don't know what will happen to them when they leave this world. Is that it? Is there another world? Is there a hell? I'm learning about life and realizing that my existence will never end. I am an eternal being and my destiny is solidly in Christ. It is by grace of course. Life for believers is not "over" when we leave here, it continues. After all, we serve a risen (risen from the dead) Savior.

Hence, I see death differently. I am not bold enough to say I don't fear death at all. But, I can honestly say I'm not worried about it. Why? Because I will have to go through it sooner or later. And, I know there is something for me, far better on the other side. Far better, means to me that I will continue to live, but not on the battlefield as I am now. Not with all the stresses of life here in the devil's world and sin, death, pain and suffering.

Today, many are taking their lives prematurely. I do NOT want to encourage this at all by them finding some sort of justification in what I have written. Let me clarify. I am saved, a believer, born again, a Christian! That is the reason I know where my life will be. It is not simply to look for peace, less turmoil and trouble. My feeling is a longing to be with my Lord and a loss of the fear of death. Yes, the world is tough and at times, we all look for relief. The pressure is real and certainly heavy upon us at times. But, I am here until the Lord says its time for me to come home.

Right now, its time for me to go to work. That is my thought here in the world too. There is much work for me to do here. God has a purpose for me being right where I am, right now. How would I feel if I came home and met the Lord and He said, why are you here so early? I want to please the Lord and that is why I'm here, and that is why I'm working---for Him. His sacrifice for me motivates me to sacrifice also. I will serve, with honor and conclude with Paul that when the Lord is ready for me, then I am ready too. Until then, I will work while it is day. I will keep the faith, I will run the race, and I will know that the Lord is honored by what I do.

1Pet 1:3-8
(3) Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
(4) and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you,
(5) who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
(6) In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.
(7) These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
(8) Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,