To Live Is Christ

Several thoughts, struggles, and emotions converged this morning, and it has been very bitter sweet.

On one hand, it is reassuring that the one and only God in this universe is good, perfect, and never grows tired. However, on the other hand I am flawed, imperfect, and I have grown very tired. Frustrations well up, the weight of everything feels too heavy, and I just want to retreat. But God never retreats.

Last Sunday, our student pastor preached in the evening service about God doing big things in us. He used events from the life of Abraham to draw out some really impactful applications. One of these was how God can use difficult situations to do big things in our lives. He spoke on how Abraham believed God, and trusted him with the life of his son Isaac. There is no doubt that this was a difficult situation for Abraham, but he trusted God’s word.

One of the things that stood out to me in a new way as our pastor spoke, was the three day journey Abraham and Isaac took to the mountain of sacrifice. For three days Abraham held his resolve. We are not told that he struggled or wrestled with it, but I have to believe he had some emotional turmoil those three days. But even while I believe that, Abraham remained faithful. He keep going forward, and he followed God’s word.

Well, this last week has been a difficult situation. It has been a low point for me emotionally, physically, and spiritually. There have been times on the journey, that have left me wondering if I can really handle the tasks God has set before me. Times I have thought of turning around. But thanks be to God! He has held me, he has kept me, and his grace has been sufficient. It was Friday night, when doing dishes, that God put Philippians 1:21 in my mind:

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

As I was meditating on this, it got me thinking that if your reason for living is anything other than Christ, you will lose it all at death. However, if you spend your life in a joyful pursuit of Christ and what he desires for you, then at your last breath you will gain everything.

If we spend our days seeking all the comfort, entertainment, hobbies, money, power, success or pleasures that this world offers, then at death we will have lost everything we looked to for our source of meaning and joy.

However, if we look to spend all our days seeking Christ, to have the comfort he can give, to use our time, hobbies, and money to express our love for him and point others to him, to seek success in being conformed into his image and the pleasures that he offers our souls, then at the end of this life we gain the fulness of everything we have pursued with our lives. Because we gain him, and are made like him.

All this, in one form or another, was reiterated this morning by our senior pastor. The title of his message was The Crowd or The Christ. Will we follow the crowd of culture that seeks its own desires, or we will follow Christ? Will we open up ourselves to him like Abraham did and say, “God write your story through me,” and then follow Christ where he leads? Will we like Abraham, continue on in the third day of a long difficult journey, because we know that no matter where the road ends on this life, there is gain in the next?

God, raise us up to a new life that pursues what will last forever! Jesus, let us see you as better and let us choose you always!