But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better;Philippians 1:23(NASB)
Paul was a man that loved His Lord with a passion that is rarely seen, and he simply longed to be with His Saviour, but Paul also had a deep compulsion to tell others about the One Person Who could save and sanctify a lost sinner. Paul had a dilemma.. Is it better to live or better to die? Death held no dread for Paul for he knew that his physical death is simply a gateway into the eternal presence of the glorified Lord, Whom he loved so dearly. But He also knew that God had commissioned him as an apostle of the gospel of Christ - indeed he had been entrusted with many important truths for the Church of God - which had been hidden in past ages and generations.
Indeed, Paul's longing to be with Jesus far surpassed his eagerness to remain in this mortal coil. Most people dread the approach of the grim reaper and those that do desire death, often view it as the lesser of two evils in a world that has pushed them to the brink of despair, due to life's cruelties and difficulties. But although Paul's hunger to be with the Lord caused him to view death as a welcome gift, the stark reality of a lost world in desperate need of a preacher to bring the good news of the glorious gospel of the grace of God to a fallen race.. and the urgent demand for a teacher to train up the body of Christ in the life of faith, caused this conflict in his thinking.
Paul was hard-pressed to know which of the two courses would bring the most glory to the Father - and although he longed to depart to be with the Lord Jesus, Whom he loved so dearly.. this faithful apostle knew in his heart that it was to everyone's advantage for him to remain on earth and to finish the work that God had planned for him to do.
God had placed Paul exactly in the location that He had chosen for him to preach the Word.. just as the Lord has put each one of us in the place where He wants us to be. And just as God called His chosen apostle-to-the-gentiles home at His appointed time, so the Lord will do the same for each one of us. But in the meantime, let us like Paul finish the work that God has given us to do.. in the place where He has planted us.
Blessed to God is the death of His saints, but how precious to know that our times are in God's hands.. and He will one day call us home at His appointed time. Let us like Paul determine to fulfil the work that God has given us to do, while we look for that blessed hope and expect with excited anticipation Christ's any-day appearance to take us to be with Himself. In the meantime, let us occupy until He come - to His praise and glory as we see the day approaching.
Loving Father I long to be with Jesus and I long to live for Jesus. Enable me to live a life that is honouring to You. And I pray that I may so set my heart on You .. that the things of the world have no attraction for me, as my eyes remains fixed firmly on You, in Jesus name I pray, AMEN.