Monday, February 27, 2017

Holding On Loosely to This Life

“I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.” (Philippians 1:20-26 NIV)

My wife and I have this running joke between us.  We both playfully claim we are going to die first and that it would be very wrong for the other to be the first to go and leave us behind.  It may seem to be a morbid joke at first glance, but it really comes from a similar understanding that Paul had—that living this life to follow Christ is good, but to actually be eternally in His presence is so much better.  

If my wife were to depart first (highly unlikely in my humble opinion), I am sure I would grieve terribly, but not for her because I would know that is what she longed for—to be with Jesus.  And I think the same will be true for her as well if I am the first to exit this world.  We both truly believe the best is yet to come.

I don’t think this is very common among people, even believers. Rather, there is a clinging to this life.  Platitudes evoking the wonders of Eternity may be spoken, but the grip on this life remains steadfast.  

I indeed have felt it, but as I’ve grown older and my mortality becomes more and more undeniable, Paul’s words have taken on deeper relevancy and my grip on this life has been steadily loosening.  

It is this loose grip that allows us to live freely and at peace.  Too many live in constant fear or in denial of their mortality.  Both lead to bondage and unsettledness.  It is only when we hold onto our earthly lives loosely that we can experience the peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7).

Today, ask yourself this question: Do I truly believe to die is to gain something wonderful and indescribable?  If the answer is no, then ask the Lord to show you more clearly the riches of the glorious inheritance that awaits you on the other side. For the more you understand about Eternity, the less you will want to cling to this life and the more peace you will have. 

© Jim Musser 2017

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