Today I understand, more than ever, what Paul was saying when he proclaimed to the Philippians, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. So what shall I choose? I do not know. I am torn between the two. I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better indeed. But it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.” (Philippians 1:21-24)
There have been countless times over the last six months that I have prayed, “come Lord Jesus!” I pray for Jesus to return as swift as the swooping of an eagle snatching up his evening meal. Yet I confess my heart is torn in two. I have the desire to be swooped up and taken into glory, yet there is a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out) here on the earth.
I have prayed this prayer a thousand times. And of those thousands of times the reason for the prayer has varied. I prayed, “come Lord Jesus” for relief for a grieving heart, to relief from the violence and madness plastered on the news, to relief from the injustice of our world and the depravity and sin of man. How far our world is from God!
On the one hand, my heart longs to know the peace of being surrounded by God’s love and never to have an aching heart, never cry tears of sadness and never to experience loss again. My heart longs to see restored bodies and restored minds.
Yet, like Paul, I am torn in two. Because though I want to know the completeness of God’s love, to feel it surrounding me, I know there is still work to be done here on the earth. I know it is work that he has called me to, to help break chains of bondage and sin as I draw attention to freedom found in Christ through writing and speaking.
What’s more in this season of relation and transition for my family, I am faced with another “torn in two” situation. My heart desires to be in Florida, to get my girls ready for school, to meet neighbors, to find and settle into our new routines and lifestyle.
Yet, like Paul, once again I say, “I am torn in two.” I am torn because I also have a mama who needs me, well at least I think she needs me. I want to be with her as she walks through cancer surgery and treatment. I can’t be in two states at once, of that I am sure.
As I meditate on this scripture in light of my current life circumstances I see a lesson in the making that God is working out in me. The lesson is about trust. Perhaps God uses these moments of a heart torn in two to teach us, his children, what it means to trust him and let go.
When the time comes I have to make a choice. Get my kids settled or stay behind with my mom. Whatever choice I make, knowing there is no “right answer” per se, is sometimes harder. I like when choices are spelled out in black and white. I like when there is a “right” answer.
However, in life’s shades of grey situations like these, a choice must be made. And in making the choice, there is an opportunity to trust that God has our back whatever decision we make.
For me, choosing to get the girls settled in Florida and all ready for school, means that I am also choosing to trust God with my mom. Choosing to trust God to provide her the help she needs, the emotional support she needs and the encouragement I want to be for her if I were by her side. It means that I have to trust that He knows what she needs better than I do and leaning into him to provide for her how He best sees fit.
Making a choice to stay or go is an exercise of trust in God.
If I choose to stay I have to trust God will provide and meet the needs of my girls emotionally, physically, and tangibly with school supplies and neighborhood friends.
Making a choice – one way of the other – also requires me to let go of the FOMO. I have to let go of the fear of what I will miss. I have to let go of not seeing, participating, serving, loving, giving and just being with whom and where my heart longs to be. I have to let go and trust God.
In either scenario, I am trusting God to show up and show off. He always makes a way, provides and brings about order. When I have to choose – to stay or go – the choice takes my trust and prayers to a deeper level, a level that would never be required or necessary without the need to choose.
As I reflect back to the beginning of this blog I chuckle to myself as I see, my heart is torn in more directions than just two. Heaven or earth. St. Louis or Florida. Business or ministry and the list goes on and on.
In the profound and silly words of “Kid President” from many years ago, “Two roads diverged in the woods and I took the road less traveled…AND IT HURT MAN! Rocks…thorns….not cool Robert Frost!”
Trusting in God, trusting that He has my back when I can’t be the places I want to be, or with the people I want to be with, that is the road less travelled. It’s not easy, and the road of faithful trust may have rocks and thorns, but it is a road that is worth walking. It is a road worth taking because it leads to deeper intimacy with Jesus.
Anytime life presents the opportunity to choose between two desires, it is an opportunity to grow to a deeper trust and faith in God. Take the opportunity as it is presented. Sometimes there is no right or best choice, but a choice has to be made just the same. And making the choice is more about the trust it takes to decide more than which decision is made.
Choosing to trust God and choosing to have faith in His plan is choosing the road less travelled. It is worth every step of the journey. Recognize also that like Paul desired to be with Christ, he said it is “necessary for me to remain”. A heart torn in two, not only provides an opportunity to trust God with what you are letting go, but an opportunity to surrender to what you are stepping into.
How is it with your heart today? Are you facing two roads ahead? Is your heart torn in two, or maybe even three of four directions? What if you looked at the choice as an opportunity to trust God at a deeper level and step further into faith. What if you believed that God would show up, and take care of it all?
‘So what shall I choose?” as Paul proposed. I choose to believe God will show up. I choose to believe God has my back. I choose to believe God knows my heart’s desire to be in two (or more) places at once. He knows that my lack has exposed my need for him. I choose to lean into the need for more of Him. I choose to believe that he will do what he has promised he will do. I choose more of Jesus.