I visited with someone recently who has received a tough medical prognosis. Their condition is terminal and unless the Lord intervenes, they may not live to see the end of this year. As I visited with them about the things they are going through, they shared with me that this terminal diagnosis does not scare them. They said they have placed their faith in Christ and know that when they pass, they will go to be with Him. In fact, they said they look forward to that time. And while they look forward to being with the Lord, they are concerned about those they are leaving behind. They want to have more time to share the love of Christ with friends and family who do not yet know the Lord as they do. We visited for a while and closed our visit by praying for their health, their concerns and their desire for God to help them make the most of the time they have remaining. Our discussion reminded me of what Paul said in Philippians 1:21 – 24.
Phil 1:21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. 23 But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; 24 yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.
As Paul wrote to the Philippians, he was in prison and his life was at risk. This was not an unfamiliar situation for Paul. Paul had experienced some difficult and dangerous times in his ministry; he had endured times of imprisonment, beatings and persecution. But even as he faced death, Paul told the church that he was not afraid of dying. Quite the opposite. Paul looked forward to the time when his life would end so that he could go to be with the Lord. “To die is gain” he wrote. And though Paul looked forward to being with the Lord, he still wanted to stay here. He still had some more work he wanted to do; he still had some things he wanted to accomplish. Paul wanted to continue to share the gospel with others. He wanted others to come to know the same forgiveness that he had received through Christ. Paul wanted to make the most of the time he had left.