Reading for Thursday, Dec 27: 2 Timothy 4
“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing,” (v6-8).
Here we find Paul’s “farewell address”, his final words to his young apprentice. We should hear these as proud words — not prideful words, but reflections from a servant whose time has come, a look in the rearview mirror and an anticipation of the road ahead. Paul is supremely confident of two things:
1. His time on earth is quickly coming to an end, but…
2. His time with Jesus is only just beginning.
For Paul, as for us, life has been hard. It is no accident he calls it a “fight”, a “race” of endurance. But this fight has been engaged with faithfulness, and as the end draws nigh, Paul can look ahead to the glorious future as a time of reward and blessing. What else can he mean as he speaks of Christ’s “appearing”? At the end, faith will become sight and just the very thought of it is wholly exhilarating.
As I write tonight, I reflect on the life of one of our dear church members, a good man who passed away yesterday. I think about my father-in-law stricken with ALS, a horrible disease wherein the body turns on itself as muscle functionality slowly dissipates. I think of my parents who have been gone from my life for so long that, at times, I can barely remember the sound of their voices. I think about so many people in my life who, like Paul, have raced well and lived by faith, equally confident that God will, in the end, do just as He has promised.
This is a good place for us to end our study this year.
May we someday be able to say that we have run the good race, that we have fought the good fight. May we, too, long for the glorious appearing of the One to whom we have given our whole selves.
And, in the end, may He come quickly.