“You ever notice,” Stan began, “how many bumper stickers and license plate holders say something about the person would rather be someplace else or doing something else?”
“Sure have,” I replied. “Just saw two on the way here this morning. One said ‘I’d rather be in Hawaii’. The other said, ‘I’d rather be sailing’. Maybe if they got together, they would rather be sailing in Hawaii!”
“You’re right,” Stan said with a chuckle, “it seems like a lot of people wish they weren’t where they are.”
“How about you, Stan?” I asked. “You ever wish you were somewhere else doing something different?”
“Yes and no,” he replied.
“How can it be both?”
“Well,” he said, “in the first place, I’m very much looking forward to being in God’s eternal presence. So, yes, I can I wish I was there.”
“On the other hand,” he continued, “I’m content to be where God has for me to be doing what He has for me to do for as long as He leaves me here. So, from that standpoint, the answer is ‘No’. There’s no place I would rather be than where God has for me to be.”
“But,” he added, “that was not always the case. As well, it can continue to be a problem if I my focus is not where God wants it to be.”
“How so?” I asked.
“Well,” Stan replied, “in my pre-Christian days, and I think it was all part of God’s plan for me, I became increasing discontent with where I was in my relationship with God.”
“Where were you in that?” I asked.
“Nowhere,” Stan said. “And that was the problem. I simply didn’t have any relationship with God. He was not a part of my life and I had no interest in that direction.”
“However,” he added, “through God’s grace and mercy, He showed me all He had for me for both sides of eternity. He opened me to want to be somewhere else, which was closer to Him.”
“Okay,” I replied, “that was pre-Christian. What about today?”
“As I said,” Stan responded, “if I don’t watch what’s going on in my life, there’s always the opportunity for me to wish I was someplace else doing something else.”
“And how do you avoid that?” I asked.
“Surrender,” was his one-word response. It’s the same old thing. Surrender to the leading of God’s Holy Spirit who is in me for the very purpose of leading me in an ever-deepening faith walk. If I will agree with where God has for me to be, doing what He has for me to be doing, it will happen. If I don’t, it won’t.”
“As simple as that?” I asked.
“As simple as that,” Stan replied, “but just because it’s simple it doesn’t mean it’s easy!”
“So,” I said, “it could be kind of like driving around with a bumpersticker that says, ‘I’d rather be walking closer to God’.”
“Exactly,” Stan replied. “I just have to remember that for that ‘rather be’ to be accomplished, that’s what I have to choose. It won’t happen by itself, and It can’t just be wishful thinking!”
Bible verses to consider:
For a day in Thy courts is better than a thousand outside. I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God, than dwell in the tents of wickedness. Psalm 84:10.
Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am in. Philippians 4:11.
Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord — for we walk by faith, not by sight — we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. Therefore also we have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. 2 Corinthians 5:6-9.
Prayer: Thank you, Father, for the contentment you provide in knowing I will spend eternity in your presence when it’s time. Thank you, too, for the contentment of being able to draw ever closer to you in a deepening personal relationship before then. The desire to be someplace other than where you intend is from the world, the flesh, and the devil, along with an unhealthy dose of self-focus. Please forgive me when I wander away. And please help me in resisting the temptation of the “I’d rather be” mentality when those thoughts and desires take me to somewhere you do not intend for me to be, doing something you do not intend for me to be doing. Please help me so my “I’d rather be” is only closer to you. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Think on this: We all at times think about places we would rather be, along with things we would rather be doing. Building sand castles on a beach in the Caribbean rather than shoveling snow in New Hampshire. Or lounging in bed rather than going to work. How about being closer to God rather than closer to self and the world, the flesh, and the devil? Do you think about that? What would it look like for you to make being closer to God what you would rather be doing? Is that something you would like? Why or why not? If you would like that, how is it going to happen?