“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 1:22-26
Caught between two worlds. That’s how we live.
Bishop Moule put it, “I am held in suspense on both sides.”7
Suspended between two glorious alternatives: to enjoy this wonderful gift of life, working, serving God, bringing others to Christ. Or…go to heaven!
We can take a cue from Paul.
There are reasons we are here, even when our hearts say it’s time to go to heaven.
The apostle DESIRED to be with Jesus in heaven. The literal translation of that desire is an intense craving, a deep longing.
What he wants most.
But, he realizes that God has a call on his life.
To stay, “is more needful for you.”
We are here for people. A friend of mine admits that he has trouble sitting in church because after so many years, he’s heard it all.
But then, he said, besides acknowledging his own need for weekly fellowship and the Word, he also needs to be there for others. Every week, he makes it a point to be available to someone who needs to talk or pray or just greet a friend.
God does not give us this desire for heaven (“eternity in our hearts,” Ecclesiastes 3:11) just to cruelly deny us year after year.
He leaves us here on earth, suspended, vessels of His love and grace to others. And so that we can experience His love for us through other people.
“We are all strings in the concert of His joy.” —Jacob Boehme8
[Photo: Mystic Musings, Creative Commons]