2003-07-31 - Caught in a Loop
Phil 1:21-26 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. 23 But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; 24 yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. 25 And convinced of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that your proud confidence in me may abound in Christ Jesus through my coming to you again. (NAS)
There are many times when I have a real sense of what Paul is talking about here. There are often two choices that both have benefits. Paul knows that leaving this life to be home with his Lord is going to end his wanderings and put his heart at rest. And yet he describes the traveling and teaching that he does as fruitful. He does so many things for so many people. If he stays in one place for any length of time he earns his keep likely making and repairing tents to not be a burden. He prays for those around him, in prison and at home. He is an example of character without blemish. And a source of excellent teaching that is often common sense to anyone who will listen - young or old, simple or wise, rich or poor.
Paul was caught in a loop between two decisions. I can easily imagine that Paul found himself in this state on any number of occasions, longing for his eternal home and still knowing there is so much more to do. His life is an influence to those around him and people he would never actually meet. Indeed, God uses the character of Paul today to influence people. Even though Paul may have felt caught between his heart's desire and the will of God, the common sense of Paul would recognize that he would eventually be home and that the wait would simply make it that much sweeter when his thoughts of meeting Jesus face to face were finally realized.
There are times when all of us buckle under the load of life. God may be testing you during these times, trying you like silver ore in a crucible to refine you. Or the Lord may be telling you that it is time to move on to the next job, team or town. God can use us no matter where we are. Like an arrow that hits a target, the closer to the center the more points, the more effective we are. Sometimes it takes the gentle reminder of a friend to get our attention. Other times through circumstances, or like to Elijah in a still small voice in the middle of a raging storm God speaks encouragement or direction to us.
Are you pulled in two directions? The thing you desire the most is often the thing that must wait. Like Paul, a secondary desire to help those around you may come first. Don't think for a minute that your quite service goes unnoticed. Your pain quietly suffered is written down. And when you do finally get home it will be that much more joyful and rewarding.
Grace & Peace,