Reading: “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.” Philippians 1:23-24
There are many things that are beyond our control in life and in death. In life we try to fix what we cannot fix and we tend to get anxious about those things after our death over which we have no control. Patrick knew that when he died his burial might end up being a pagan one, but that it was in the Lord’s hands and he must leave it there. He determined to do that “though I should even go without burial or my body be torn most pitiably limb from limb for dogs or savage beasts to share or the birds of the air devour it” (Confession, sec. 59).
Patrick’s goal was to glorify God, however that might come about, to live and die for and with the people of God: “And if I have ever aimed at any good for my God’s sake, whom I love, I beg Him to grant that I may shed my blood for His name along with those exiles and captives” (Confession, sec. 59). Paul had the same desire for the people of God, saying that to be with God is far better, yet to remain in the flesh was more needful for the church. It was for the church that Paul lived (Philippians 1:24).
Notice also, Christian, that Patrick feared nothing that might hurt the body in pursuing the glory of God. Like Paul he knew that “though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day” and because of this, he did not faint (2 Corinthians 4:16). He says, “It is my strong conviction that if this should happen to me, I would have gained my soul as well as my body; for beyond any doubt in that day we shall rise in the sun’s brilliant light, that is, in the glory of Christ Jesus our redeemer, to be sons of the living God and heirs with Christ and shaped to His likeness; for we shall reign from Him and through Him and in Him” (Confession, sec. 59).
Is this your hope, Christian? What a blessed expectation—a soul redeemed from hell and a body from the grave! “In that day we shall rise in the sun’s brilliant light, that is, in the glory of Christ Jesus our redeemer.” Live in the realisation of this and you will live a “life more abundant!”
“He whose head is in heaven need not fear to put his feet into the grave.”—Mathew Henry