If you are reading this, welcome to my blog. I started this blog a few months back and, well, you can see how much success I have had. Today I am traveling to Italy. Again. Yes, again. I lived in Naples, Italy for two years a few years back, which is actually where I got my blogging start. If you feel the need to be bored to death, or partially amused by judging my poor writing skills, you should check it out.
I’ve decided to blog again as I travel to Italy, again. When you spend two months, or any significant amount of time, in another country without the people you normally interact with, people want to know what you are doing. Sort of. They want to quickly be informed of what you are doing. Occasionally some people call you. Fewer people will take time to read things like my wonderful blog; as long as they can do it on their own time. The majority of people just want to see some really sweet pictures of what you are doing. That way they can wish they were doing it. 🙂
My blog has a point.
I will be doing ministry all summer. That requires a lot of Jesus. Actually, all of my life requires a lot of Jesus; but I will keep this ministry focused. I’ll try. (Excuse the distraction. There are far too many amusing people around me in this airport to stay focused on the screen in front of me.)
SO…… as I embark on another journey across the ocean, I have thought about several things to say. What should my last words be to America? (As if two months is comparable to the two years I already experienced.) If I had to say last words, they should be good. It isn’t often that the words that come out of my own mouth are good though. So, in the end I decided God’s word would be a better choice for me to leave you with.
This year last year brought a lot of changes in my life. The last TWO years have brought a lot of changes in my life. Many of which were of my own doing. Many of which were God’s doing. Most of which I still do not understand. I have learned much about God through all of it. I have learned much more than maybe I realized I was learning. I have also been stretched in my understanding of Him; it was often hard to endure but I am thankful for it. One thing that stands out in this moment is the magnified view of His glory. Life truly is all about God’s glory. There is nothing else. Everything that we experience needs to cause us to ask “How can God be glorified in this?” or better yet “How is God being glorified in this?” I have learned that if I can not ask myself that question, then I am doing something that I should reconsider; or I have the complete wrong perspective on the situation. (That is another topic for another blog)
If that is true, then life is for Him. I am reminded of the words of Paul in Philippians. “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Php 1:21 NASB) For anyone who spends time digging into God’s word, we understand to this verse to mean what it says. If Paul were to die a physical death, he saw that as gain; gain because he would be with Jesus. As Paul lived though (in jail or being tortured), it was Christ. In other words, death was the better option for Paul, but if he had to live on then it would be completely for Christ, about Christ, with Christ, in Christ…… must I go on?
We comprehend that Scripture. Do we cognitively understand that Scripture? At what point does that Scripture become real? Does it become real? Are we at a place that we can truly say “to live is Christ and to die is gain”? Should we really be at a place that we say that?
As my parting words, I leave these. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Unquoted, because they are my words. Don’t worry. This isn’t a final note. This is just my current reality. On that I must elaborate.
In all honesty, I say those words because life is hard. When life is hard, no matter what those hard circumstances may be, we are faced with a choice. As believers, we are faced with the choice to trust what we know of God, or to act in our own strength. Through my hard circumstances, I can choose to make my own path. Despite the sinful choices I have made along the way, and unfortunately will continue to make along the way, I choose to come back to the truth of God. I choose to repent and trust again in my Savior. Some days it is because I have nothing else. Most days it because in the depths of my heart I realize what my longings are really for.
It is because I have realized what my longings are really for that I say to live is Christ and to die is gain. I also partly say these words as encouragement. I long for the day that I can be with Jesus and no longer have to endure the hardships of life; including the hardships that I cause (which are most of them). Really. I long for that day. I wish it were now. I wish I could be done with fighting the battle of sin in this life. God has ordained otherwise up until this point though. Therefore, if I am going to live this life, why live it for futile things that will never satisfy no matter how great they seem or may even be? To live is Christ. So live the good and the bad and even the mediocre as Christ. Be Him. Love like Him. Forgive like Him. Hurt like Him. Care like Him. Be unconventional like Him (I mean, just make sure you line up with Scripture).
Believer, long for the day that you can be face to face with Jesus. LONG for it. Don’t just think it is a good idea while being content with your American dream life. Be content that your longings for Jesus are real and WILL be satisfied, while enjoying temporal blessings that pass time until Jesus. BUT, as you desire to gain in death, LIVE as Christ. I mean really live as Christ.
What if? What if we did? What would the world look like?
Now is a time that I wish words could really emphasized the magnitude of what I feel.
I always await the return of Jesus, but I am still alive. This summer, since I am alive, I will seek to live as Christ more than I ever have. Hold me to it. I need you to. While you are at it, read along on my short little journey.