“If by continuing to live I can do more worthwhile work, then I am not sure which I should choose. I am pulled in two directions. I want very much to leave this life and be with Christ, which is a far better thing; but for your sake it is much more important that I remain alive. I am sure of this, and so I know that I will stay. I will stay on with you all, to add to your progress and joy in the faith.” (Philippians 1:22-25 GNT)
Have you ever been in someone’s physical presence, but your mind was a million miles away? Perhaps you’ve heard the expression – “90% of life is showing up.” That’s the burden sometimes, isn’t it?
Having read Viktor Frankl’s book many years ago, it caught my attention when I read in a recent Rick Warren devotional: “I’ll never forget reading Viktor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning. Frankl was a Jewish psychiatrist who was taken to one of the death camps in Nazi Germany. All of his family and friends were gassed and murdered. He writes in his book about one day when he stood in front of the Gestapo, stark naked. They’d taken away the prisoners’ clothes and even Frankl’s wedding ring. As he stood there with nothing at all, he suddenly realized there was one thing the Nazis could not take away from him: his choice in how he would respond. You cannot totally control what other people do to you. You cannot control what other people do around you. But you can control how you respond. Choose to serve others, even when you are hurting. Choose to forgive. Choose to focus on God’s promises and not your circumstances. Those are the kind of choices that lead to greater faith. Then, your faith will produce greater joy.”
We can allow our imagination to run wild, surmising what we might do or how we might respond if we were in a situation like Frankl’s, but for all intent and purpose, it’s a waste of time. The real issue is – how will we respond today to the circumstances in which we find ourselves? How will we respond to our family, our co-workers, our friends, our enemies today! What will be our choice in how we respond to THEIR treatment of us?
They may love you or stab you in the back. You can’t control what anyone does to you, but you can control what you allow the Spirit to do through you!
Think of Jesus standing before the soldiers who would soon nail Him to a tree – silent! When the soldiers hit Him with their fists, spit on Him, formed a crown of thorns and put it on His head. When they took His clothes, mocked Him, ripped the skin from His holy body with a lead tipped whip, then nailed Him to a cross! It breaks my heart that He had to go through all of that for me . . . and you!
Knowing all He did for us, what’s our choice as it relates to Him?
As I’m nearing 75, my heart and mind tend to lean towards Paul’s desire to go be with Jesus, but the Spirit’s pull to continue to speak life and hope into people’s lives cements my feet to planet earth until such a time as the Lord comes or calls me home. My choice, in life and in death is Jesus.
In the face of all Jesus did to make it possible for me to know and love Him, He’s mine and I am His. I have little insight into what the future holds, only that Jesus is coming soon. I have no expectation that the world will improve, but like Viktor Frankl, I have a choice. We have a choice!
We can mutter and complain about the way things are, driving people away from us and the Jesus we claim to know and love. Or we can place our lives securely into the capable hands of our Savior and simply and faithfully walk in His steps. It may lead to suffering and heartache, as it did for Jesus, but wherever it leads, may our course never change and may our voices never falter as to our dying breath we lift praise, adoration, and honor to our living King.
That’s my choice! How about you?
Blessings, Ed 😊