"Lord, sustain me as You promised, that I may live!
Do not let my hope be crushed.
Sustain me and I will be rescued;
Then I will meditate continually on your decrees."
Psalm 119:116, 117
"Don't leave me to the mercy of my enemies, for I have done what is just and right." (Psalm 119, verse 121)
"My eyes strain to see your rescue, to see the truth of Your promise fulfilled." (Psalm 119, verse 123)
And then there are the verses that make me a wee bit nervous. "Lord, are You trying to tell me something here?" I mean, it's not like I went looking for these verses - they just popped out at me . . .
"But I will rejoice even if I lose my life . . ." Philippians 2:17
Hmm. I prefer this one: "I will not die; instead, I will live to tell what the Lord has done." Psalm 118:17
Okay, Lord: make up Your mind, will Ya? Am I staying, or am I going? Which is it?!?!?!?
"I am as good as dead, like a strong man with no strength left." Sheesh! Psalm 88:4
"But I cried to Him, "O my God, who lives forever, don't take my life while I am so young!" Psalm 102:24. You do think I'm still young, right, Lord? I mean, 50 is the new 30, don't You know? It's too early to check out, no?
"He broke my strength in midlife, cutting short my days." Psalm 102:23 Acckkk!!! I just turned 50!! 50 is midlife!!!
And next: "They have set an ambush for me, fierce enemies are out there waiting, Lord, though I have not sinned or offended them." Psalm 59:3
Well, now I don't know WHAT to think!
"The Lord protects them and keeps them alive." Psalm 41:2. Okay, I like that one . . .
"The Lord nurses them when they are sick and restores them to health." Good! Psalm 41: 3
"He has some fatal disease," they say. "He will never get out of that bed!" Well, I'm not exactly bedridden. Yet, anyways. (oops - think positive, Wendy!)
"But God is my helper. The Lord keeps me alive!" Psalm 54:4 Yesssss!!! (Er, He can keep me alive . . . but will He?)
"Jesus, I am resting, resting
In the joy of what Thou art
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart."
(old hymn we used to sing in my hymn-singing days)
Who needs an amusement park? I have a roller coaster happening right here, people!!!
Shall we let St. Paul sum it up?
"Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.
"I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.
"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.
"Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me."
Okay, so Paul wanted to go, but he wanted to stay, too. I get that. What's so scary about going to be with Jesus forever? Do we believe it's true or don't we? If we do, why should it be scary?
I mean, it's normal for non-believers to freak out when they get a death sentence, right? Maybe they're afraid of death; of dying. Or maybe they think this is it - the here and now - and they think once you're gone, that's it; it's over.
But why do we Christians flip when we hear of another Christian dying? Why do we mourn and cry at funerals? In my friend Margaret's native land of Nigeria, Christians dress in white and celebrate when one of their own dies . . . they have a party! A believer has been ushered into the Presence of God - how joyous for him or her! And so the believing friends rejoice for the departed one.
Makes you think, huh?
And so I ponder. In the end, I have to say I'd be okay with going. Someone once said, "It's not death I'm afraid of; it's the process of dying." Yeah, but they have morphine and stuff. It probably wouldn't be that bad (can you tell my imagination is going wild here?)
And yet, like Paul (not that I'm even remotely in the same spiritual category as he was), I think it's better for me to stay.
Especially because of the dreams I hold here in my heart - the dreams God Himself put there.
~ Dreams to go out into the fields and see people saved;
~ Dreams to proclaim the gospel in as many nations as possible;
~ Dreams of encouraging other believers to lay down their lives for the sake of the gospel;
~ Dreams of making a difference in the lives of others;
~ Dreams of introducing people to Christ and see their lives transformed;
~ Dreams of leading thousands - yes, thousands - to Christ.
I know . . . that last one might seem pretentious . . . too big a goal. Listen, I'd rather have a huge goal and not fulfill it - than have no goals, and succeed!
What are your dreams, fellow pilgrim? What are you hoping God will do through you today? Tomorrow? Next week? Next year? What are your dreams?
All I want is to hear Him say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant." And personally, I think He'll be able to say that a little more heartily if He'd just give me a few more years to get some of these dreams goin' . . .
So, Lord, could You just keep me around a little bit longer? That would be really sweet.