Have you ever wanted to go somewhere, but couldn't? I remember being in middle school and desperately wanting to go out to the mall with friends from school, but my parents not giving me permission. At that age, as much as I craved the liberty to go out with friends, my parents weren't quite ready to let me loose, and it frustrated me a ton!
In more recent years, I've found myself experiencing a different craving: to be with the Lord Jesus. With the way things are in the world, I sometimes ask the Lord, "When will you come back to take us to be with you?" I mean, who wouldn't want to be freed of the trials, sufferings, and darkness of this world, especially if it means the blissful joy of being in our Savior's physical presence in heaven?
If you're anything like me, you've probably also experienced this craving. It's a good craving to have! But, just as was the case for me in middle school, we don't always get what we want. I'm reminded of the demon-possessed man who was healed by Jesus (Luke 8:26-39). All he wanted was to be with Jesus. Luke even tells us that he "begged to go with him" (Luke 8:38), but Jesus had other plans for him. "Return home," the Lord told him, "and tell how much God has done for you" (Luke 8:39).
Being with Jesus would be the best thing for us. Paul expressed his longing to be with the Lord this way: "I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far" (Philippians 1:23). But he also understood, despite his imprisonments and sufferings, that the Lord had a purpose for him on this earth. So he continued, "but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body" (Philippians 1:24). He desired to be with Jesus in heaven, but the Lord wasn't calling him home just yet; Christ intended for him to continue in the work of the gospel.
This was true for the demon-possessed man who was rescued by Jesus. As much as he desired to be with Jesus, Jesus had another purpose for him. And this is true for us, too. It's good to crave to be with the Lord, but if the Lord still has us on this earth, it's for a purpose, that we might continue to do the work of the gospel as we worship him, trust him, rely on him, live for him, and patiently wait for him to take us to our true home.
May we recognize what Paul recognized. Yes, it would be far better for us to be with the Lord already, but it's more necessary for others that we remain here. Why? I think the answer is twofold. First, because we possess the message of salvation, and second, because we've experienced it for ourselves. And others need to know about it. May the Lord help us to be like the man he rescued from spiritual darkness, who "went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him" (Luke 8:39).
If you're still here today, craving and waiting for Jesus, and you have the physical ability to go to others, who are the townspeople who need to hear how much the Lord has done for you?