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STUDY SERIES:    Going Home                                                                               SESSION No. 3

SIGNIFICANT CHANGE

INTRODUCTION:

A “change of mind” or a “change of heart” usually refers to a response of some significance. We don’t use those expressions lightly. So when I say that Rev. David Watson experienced significant change in his outlook and attitude, I am not under-stating the situation.

But first, do you recall this statement from last week and the request that you ponder it during the week and share any insights or questions that it prompted? Why not do that now before we look at the content of this next study.

INTERACTION:  “We are calling this study series ‘GOING HOME’. Why would anyone think of heaven as ‘home’? If heaven is our home, what does that suggest about our life on earth?

David Watson was an Anglican clergyman in Britain a few years ago who was diagnosed with liver cancer when he was 50 years of age. His book, “Fear No Evil” is a powerful insight into his heart and mind as he shares the highs and lows of his journey through “the valley of the shadow of death”.

At one point in the book David refers to a significant change of perspective that put the death event in a whole new light. He referred to the passage we looked at in our last session

"For to me, living is for Christ, and dying is even better. Yet if I live, that means fruitful service for Christ. I really don't know which is better. I'm torn between two desires: Sometimes I want to live, and sometimes I long to go and be with Christ. That would be far better for me, but it is better for you that I live". (Phil 1:20-24 NLT)

Rev. Watson explained that he moved from his original position  and it was a very significant change.

  • I want (passionately) to stay here but I am willing (reluctantly) to go to be with Christ

  • I want (passionately) to go and be with Jesus but I am willing (reluctantly) to stay here.

INTERACTION:  On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being ‘not at all’ and 10 being all-consuming’) how would you rate your desire to go and be with Christ? Could you explain your response?

Is it wrong (sinful?) to desire to remain here rather than going home to be with Jesus? I've read and heard accounts of people who have pleaded with God to take them home to be with Him. Sometimes that is because death would free them from physical pain. Others have been desperately lonely and have wanted to be released from the prison of solitude into the presence of Jesus.

Despite my diminishing physical health to which I referred in our last session, I am neither in unbearable pain or desperately lonely. At this point in my journey, I have no great desire to finish here and go home. Is that so wrong?

Rev. Watson talked about the changing focus he developed over that transition period - a change of focus which included worship and praise music as well as extended times of meditation in the Scriptures and reflective prayer. These times were not always experienced in solitude. Fellow believers who were tuned in to what God was doing played a vital role in the unfolding drama.

 

I guess the Apostle Paul had to make that same transition at some point during his discipleship. I don't imagine that the desire to go and be with Christ was within him from his conversion on the Damascus Road. (Read  Acts 9/1-19).  There must have been a time - a period - in his life when that desire emerged and became a passion. I'd like to know when and how!

Did it happen during his time in Arabia? (Read Galatians 1/16-18). His life was under enormous threat on numerous occasions. Was it during one of those occasions? What about the time he was in gaol in Philippi? (Read Acts 16/22-28).

WAIT! STOP THE PRESS!  Why haven't I seen that before now? Just one word, the significance of which gives me a whole new perspective. Paul says "sometimes" his desire is to live i.e. to remain here and "sometimes" he longs to go and be with Christ.

I have believed for many years that, based on these verses, Paul was always longing to be with Jesus. That he was always - 24/7 - torn between two desires. But no, he says "sometimes" that was the case. Not all day every day.

I think a case can be made that the heavenward desire probably appealed in the midst of opposition and persecution. The letter to the Philippians was written when Paul was in prison. The pressure was on and departing this world to be with Jesus would be very appealing indeed.

Taking the same line of thought, maybe when his mission was going well, people were responding to the gospel, miracles were happening every day….who would want to leave that wonder-filled life?!!

Read Colossians 3:1-4 (NLT)
 Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honour at God’s right hand.   Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.   For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.  And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.

APPLICATION:

If you had to summarize in one sentence what you believe is the main lesson from this session, what would you say? (You can take more than one sentence if you want!)

 

 

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