"If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? ...I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ..."
Years ago, Jan was a neighbor who helped form my early Christian view of life and death. She was born with a congenital defect and her only hope of survival was a heart and lung transplant. When she no longer had the energy to go out to Bible study, she asked if a few of us would come to her home and study with her. She wanted to lead us in a study on Philippians. In her flagging strength and with failing body, Jan confessed that she struggled between the two desires that Paul posed – to live on and bear fruit or to depart to be with Jesus. On days when she felt good, she desired to remain, but on those days when she felt bad…
Though most of us aren’t facing Jan’s situation imminently, I wonder if we can honestly say with Paul, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). Is your life so identified with Christ that your whole “purpose for being” is bearing fruit in Him? Is your departure so united with Him that you can say with eager expectation that to be with Him “is better by far”?
In Christ, we have the grace to live on and bear fruit, and someday he will provide the grace we need to be with him.