Lately I’ve felt different. When I wake in the morning and when I lie down at night, something doesn’t quite feel right. Almost as if my days have been incomplete. Granted, in comparison to life as I knew it before, I’ve got an abundance of time and a lack of things to fill it, but this is different. After spending some time pondering and praying it started becoming apparent: I’m in love. I’m in love and falling deeper all the time by no effort or volition that I can claim as my own. It’s just kinda…happening. The time I’m used to spending with this person will no longer do. We’ve yet to meet face to face and I’m realizing that, more than anything, I want to meet. It’s been so prevalent in my mind this past week and never really has been before. Ok, enough suspense. I’m talking about Jesus. I’ve known Jesus for the larger portion of my life and have even loved him because, as I’m sure all those who know him can attest, to know Him is to love Him. So what’s the big deal now? What’s the difference that’s got me so worked up over it lately? Well, Paul’s starting to make more sense all the time.
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, (Philippians 1:21-25)
I had a friend while I was at Master’s who wasn’t good at being a student. The guy’s a Bible major and loves Jesus with all of his heart but studying comes tough to him. I remember one night he was working on a big assignment for Math or Econ or some Gen Ed class and then he asked me, “Are there any nights when you just want to die? Every time I have one of these assignments I seriously want to die. Not like I’m suicidal or anything, but I start wanting some kind of freak accident to happen or Jesus to come back so I don’t have to finish and just get to be in Heaven.” At the time I laughed and thought it was a ridiculous reason to want to leave the Earth. To be honest, I still think it’s ridiculous…and a little funny. However, one thing that stuck with me about what he said that I knew was genuine, homework aside, was that he was ready to go at any time- something I hadn’t really gotten a hold of yet. He wasn’t the first person I’d come across who’s ready to go either. Numerous times I’ve heard a distressed person utter a “Lord, come quick!” or somebody who’s tired of being old or exhausted and their excitement about getting their new body. I on the other hand have always loved life. I love my family, my friends, I’ve even found ways to be content with all of this moving I’ve been doing lately. Maybe I haven’t suffered enough yet to hate this world but I’ve always been fine with Jesus taking His time in returning. I wouldn’t have been sad if He had returned, I just never felt any rush. Now, I’m with Paul. Now, like him, “my desire is to depart and be with Christ,” because He and He alone, is my heart’s desire. Crazy right? You have no idea. It’s not like this came out of a more intense period of prayer, study, and meditation. If anything, I’ve been praying, reading, and studying less. Just more evidence to me that faith is a gift that is given (Ephesians 2:8), not me being wiser or more devoted than anyone else.
Yesterday I helped Pat (my pastor in Chico) help a lady move some furniture to her new house. During the drive there and back we were doing some talking that ranged from telling stories about the mischievous escapades of our childhood to different aspects of ministry. I told him about how in recent years I’ve found that I love spending time with my pastors, in large part because I want to go into ministry and I feel that I learn as much or more from spending time with them and gleaning from their experiences in ministry and how they apply scripture to their own lives as I do from their messages on Sundays. All this to say, I want to do that with Jesus. I realize that he won’t have any stories about being a mischievous child, but to be able to spend time with the object of my most sincere affections and worship Him. I can’t even imagine what that’s going to be like. I wonder if we get one-on-one time with Jesus in Heaven? If so I bet there’s a long line.