First Friday in Advent
Luke 1:68-79; Malachi 3:13-18; Philippians 1:18b-26
“I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better; 24 but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you.” Philippians 1:23
When I was a kid in middle school, there was a old guy I’d see at church sometimes whenever he’d come to visit his kids and grandkids. Over a few visits we became conversational whenever we saw each other. One time just after Christmas I bumped into him in the sanctuary of the church after the service. With Christmas in the rear-view mirror, I presumed his visit would be drawing to a close soon, so I asked, “When are you headed home?” A warm look crossed his face as he replied, “Oh, soon. Very soon, I hope.” A little confused, I pressed him. “What do you mean, ‘I hope’? Is something keeping you from going, or have you not decided yet?”
Now he was confused. After another exchange or two, I realized that while I was talking about Florida, he was talking about heaven. My middle school memories aren’t what they once were, but I don’t recall him even being sick. He was just ready. So ready, in fact, that his desire to leave this earth was clouding his experience on it.
If anyone had reason to get cloudy-headed, it was Paul. As a Roman citizen and formerly respected Jewish leader, Paul endured a real culture shift when he dedicated his life to sharing Christ. He had to overcome the suspicions of the early believers, while dodging in and out of trouble with the government. Any other reality would have been preferable at times. But Paul stays the course—bringing hope and joy to many.
What challenges do you face that make you wish you could simply set this life aside? How do you handle them?
What opportunities do you have to bring others along in their faith?