For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.
He knew he was doing the noble thing. Beyond loving to teach, he loved to bring something of value to those who desperately needed it. He signed on for a three-year assignment, but the place never felt like home. Although the work was rewarding, he thought of his family and friends daily. As his commitment was winding down, he began to dream of the people he would see and the places he would go when he returned to his homeland. Then, as he was arranging for his passage home, he received some urgent news. The teacher who was to replace him was no longer available. They did not need him to stay for another three years, but they did need someone to fill in for at least one semester until a full-time replacement could be found. Torn as he was, he put his plans on hold. He knew that home could wait a few more months while he continued to do the noble thing.
There are times in this life when we will want Jesus to return right now. Things can get difficult and dark, and we can start to doubt our perseverance. We may feel like it is time to throw in the towel and just leave this miserable world. We might even try to bargain with God, telling him how much we have accomplished for him and how that should be sufficient. The thing is, that is not our decision to make. As much as we might want to meet Jesus in the sky today, there is still much work to be done here. I am sure that none of us would like to leave unfinished any of the work that God has planned for us. He promises to complete a good work in us, and that requires that we be available for all of the work He has dreamed up for us. We must ask ourselves which option God would prefer we select: meeting our Savior face to face today and ending our work in this world, or staying here a little longer and leading even just one more soul to him.
God is in control, and we must recognize his perfect order in our lives. Nothing is haphazard or slapped together. Everything is expected, and there are no surprises. We ask for him to give us meaningful work, and He delivers. If our desire is to effect change in this world for the purposes of the kingdom, we should want to have a hand in as much of that as possible. Oh, how glorious it would be for us to meet our Savior today, but how much more glory we can bring him by completing a little more work here. If we can put ourselves aside for a moment, I think we will see that the better road is the one which helps us lead another child to be reconciled with our Father. Father, light a fire in us that we would want to do your work every day more and more even though it means bearing through this world a little longer.