"For to me, living is for Christ, and dying is even better. Yet if I live, that means fruitful service for Christ. I really don't know which is better. I'm torn between two desires: Sometimes I want to live, and sometimes I long to go and be with Christ. That would be far better for me, but it is better for you that I live. I am convinced of this, so I will continue with you so that you will grow and experience the joy of your faith."
- Philippians 1:21-25 NLT
Years ago, before I surrendered my life to the Lord and began living for Him, I went through a long period of depression and despair. It got so bad at one point, that I began being tormented daily by thoughts of suicide. I sought counseling, and I remember telling my therapist that I was more afraid of living than of dying. Though I didn't have an intimate relationship with the Lord at the time, I believed in Him, and I trusted Him to welcome me into His presence if I died. And that's all I could think about. I had a wonderful husband, two great kids, and a terrific family. I had everything to live for, and yet I despised my life. It had no real meaning for me, no purpose. I wasn't even sure why I had been born. I felt empty, lost, and alone. Counseling and medical attention helped me to some degree, but no matter what I did, or whose help I sought, I never felt whole or complete. It wasn't until I dedicated my life to the Lord, and began digging into God's Word, that I discovered that He had created me for a purpose, and that He had awesome plans for my life. (Ephesians 2:10, Jeremiah 29:11) As I began living my life for God, instead of myself, I started living "a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own." (2 Corinthians 5:15 MSG)
These days, I can really relate to the apostle Paul's words and attitudes in the above verses. Here, Paul confesses that he has such a strong love for the Lord, that he would like nothing better than to die and be with Him in heaven. But he also admits that because God has given him important work to do in His name on this earth, he is willing to go on living in the flesh for the benefit of those he is called to help. When I think of the fact that the God of the universe has called us to work in partnership with Him to bring His will to pass on this earth, it boggles my mind. But it's absolutely true. Paul writes in Ephesians 2:10 (AMP): "For we are God's [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live]." When we receive Christ as our Savior and Lord, and experience the new birth that the Bible talks about, we position ourselves, not only to live the "good life" that God has ordained for us, but to be mightily used by Him for His glory. Almost as soon as I wholeheartedly committed my life to the Lord, I began hearing preachers and teachers saying that we should always ask God to use us for His glory. So for years, I've been earnestly praying, "Lord, use me in mighty ways for Your glory." And I am continually amazed at how eager He is to answer that heartfelt prayer. I used to worry that I wasn't equipped to accomplish much for God's kingdom, especially since for years, I was a stay-at-home mom, and I had little experience in the workforce, and very few skills. But I've since discovered that God can do a lot with a little, and that there isn't any child of His that He can't mightily use.
A part of me still longs to "go and be with Christ." But now it's not because I despise my life, or because it has no purpose or meaning. On the contrary, I love my life now, and I have a real passion for living. I anticipate each new day with joy, because I am living my life for God, and I'm doing the work God has called me to do, always eager to touch more and more lives for His glory. Do you have a passion for living? Are you living your life for God, and doing the work He's ordained for you? If not, I urge you not to wait another day. Right now, dedicate yourself to Him with all your heart, and begin living the fruitful, fulfilling, abundant life that belongs to you in Christ!
Prayer: Lord, today I offer You all that I am, and all that I have. Teach me how to live my life for You, and empower me by Your Spirit to perform the good works You prepared for me in advance. Thank You that as I seek You daily, and follow the leading of Your Spirit, I will begin to experience "the good life" You've ordained for me--and a true passion for living!
- J. M. Farro