If today, you had the choice to live or to die, what would you choose?
I have to be honest with my recent heart diagnosis, I have thought a lot about dying.
Am I ready to die? Have I done all I should? Have I equipped my kids to be here without me? What will it be like to be with Jesus in Heaven? (And, just between us, though I truly don’t want my husband to be alone if I were to die, I get a little sad thinking about him marrying someone else.)
But despite all the REAL emotion Paul surely had too in thinking about dying, he wrote, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil 1:21)
To live is Christ.
To die is gain.
And I wonder, was Paul just talking about the gain of being with Jesus in Heaven, or did he actually think the gospel could advance even more by his death and even the manner by which he might die?
Paul goes on to explain, “But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what shall I choose I cannot tell.” (Phil 1:22)
Had God given Paul a glimpse of how, thousands of years later, we would still be talking of Paul and his heart for the Lord?
And would these messages truly inspire us so much without the story Paul’s eventual martyrdom?
And I wonder, was Paul at peace because he had already settled in his heart that, whatever and however God chose, would be fine with him?
Had he allowed himself to imagine his own death, even death by an executioner, and was he spurred on knowing God would use it to advance the Kingdom for His glory?
Certainly, Paul, in his flesh, must have preferred another way; but Paul had surrendered ALL to Christ, and because of that, he could confidently rejoice.
Friends, do you think it could be that any fear currently assaulting our minds reveals an area of our lives of which we have not fully surrendered to God?
And for those of us battling fear of any kind, if we can learn to say, as David did,
“Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
IfI take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me. (Psalm 139:7-10)
No matter what God, no matter what happens in our country or in my life, if I’m in it, You are with me.
And even if I’m dying, You are with me every moment, no matter what that looks like. And if I’m in eternity, You are with me, gloriously forever!
And I wonder when Horatio G. Spafford (who had lost so much including all his daughters in a ship wreck) wrote his famous lyrics of “It is Well with My Soul” did he think of Paul’s words, “To live is Christ, to die is gain”—
“When peace like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot Thou hast taught me to say,
“It is well, it is well with my soul!” It is well with my soul!
It is well, it is well with my soul!”
Oh friends, whatever our lot, the Lord will be with us. Let’s not forget that. Let’s ask Him to teach us to say, and know, and believe, “It is well with our souls” because of Jesus!
Oh, do you know Him? What a Savior!! What a faithful friend!