I was exploring my response to the question of what is keeping me alive and fighting for survival in the here and now, when my "here and now" and my "now and future" seem so bleak....at least to me in this moment. Why would a person in constant, really terrible pain, who is alone 95% of my time, whose abilities have been stripped down to almost nothing, and whose marriage is difficult and whose love is largely one-sided--and whose future earthly destination is very likely a nursing home at a relatively young age...why would I fight to maintain such a life by going to expensive MD appointments for one example?
And in my response to that question, I came up with another question:,"If a person pursues life in the here and now, does it increase their heavenly reward?" I mean after all, isn't our reward and interest in the life to come? Why should we seek to remain in discomfort and apparent uselessness here and now?
And I will explore that question momentarily...but firstly I DO want to say that I am approaching this question from the viewpoint of someone who believes in and who is committed to Y'shua, the Son of God, Jesus: (all different names for the same man/God). And there IS an answer which is relevent for those of you who read who are not yet in that position. And I believe that the answer for you is this : God extends your life another moment, another day, or another year or more...for the sole purpose of giving you opportunity after opportunity to come to know his Son...and to decide to give him a role in your life: the role of your King, Lord, and the Lover of your soul.
2 Peter 3:9
The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.
New Living Translation (NLT)
The above Scripture refers to God's promise to return to earth to judge the living and the dead and to give his children new eternal bodies and life. And I mentioned above that you have "chance after chance" --and I want to qualify that by saying that some of you have chance after chance....some of you may not live to the end of today....and this may be your only chance to make this decision. You cannot presume that you will have numerous chances because as we all know, life is precarious and can end very suddenly and without warning. So do not delay...and you will find, as you come to really know God that you were not missing anything by remaining in your years or days of life without him....In fact you will wonder how you stood it at all.
So back to those of you who are God's kids...particularly those of you who struggle with pain, poverty, mental illness or other difficulties and hardships...why continue to struggle to maintain this life? There HAS to be a better answer than "because God said so " (and if you know of a verse where "God says so" pleases comment or email me...because I've not been able to find one which blatantly commands that we continue to struggle on and until he says "Okay, now you can come home." Even Paul struggled with this issue .... )
What I do know is that despite years of willingness for this life to end; despite numerous really serious illnesses where I toed the line between life and death...God has REFUSED TO LET LET ME DIE...He has constantly yanked me back from the very point of death and restarted this heart, woken me after suicide attempts that would kill several 200 pound men, and just basically said over and over 'NOPE, this is NOT your time.' EVEN when I've begged him in agony to bring me Home. And I"ve had to ask very seriously, "WHY????"
"Why Lord, won't you let me die?"
And it is there --in the asking of that question that I 've had to encounter the issue which I mentioned early in this post, 'Will I receive a greater reward if I stay a bit longer?' And I don't believe that the answer is a matter of reward so much ...It's a matter of not being READY yet..Am I a believer ? If I died at this moment would I go to Heaven? Yes. Absolutely.
BUT (The everlasting "but" which messes up all of my earthy plans where God interjects HIS plans to "mess up mine" and to do something so much better.....)
But, God has something he still wants me to do. Something that may not have anything to do with ME at all..but which will hugely impact someone else. Maybe.
But God would never use me to impact someone for the better without reward for me as well.
But God has a place he has ready for me in heaven.
Call it a mansion.
Call it a crown.
Call it 'Merely' the opportunity to fall at his feet, forgiven and complete.
I don't know what it is....but it's something that he is preparing for me. And I'm not READY to receive it yet. Maybe I wouldn't yet comprehend it...or appreciate it...or ....dare I say "Deserve it" yet??? I think I might. Salvation is unmerited...It is completely undeserved. But our REWARDS are completely EARNED...
Paul himself says that some of us will get into heaven with NOTHING...nothing but the skin on our backs. No rewards. No mansions. Nada.
And will we be happy to be there? You betcha...because maybe we will get a view of some fire and brimstone on our way there...and we will know exactly what it is we 've escaped.
But just as I believe there are levels of punishment in Hell. (many strokes for some, fewer for others) There will be levels of reward in heaven.
And I think...in fact I honestly believe that I'm not yet in the place where God wants me to be in order to receive that which he has been preparing for me. I've had a really strong sense of this. And I believe with all my heart, that it is supported by Scripture. And an equally strong sense that God has been conveying this to me...in all the ways in by which he communicates...
And I have to tell you that my "flesh " is so strong that in moments of extreme pain, I've even been willing to forgo that reward just to end the pain of the "now"
But God is not willing. And so I remain.
I am NOT saying or inferring that there is some huge "Ministry " that God wishes for me to begin. Or even some deed he wants me to accomplish. In fact I kinda know what it is that God wants for me to do....and it's not a "to do;" it's a "to BE." God wants me to BE something that I am not. Not yet. But it is something that he is working in me. working ON me Working with me to become.
And then....finally, He will wave that checkered flag....and I will tear, full speed ahead for that finish line.