Saturday, May 5, 2012

Still More to Come ...

Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching. For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths. But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you. As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. (2 Timothy 4:2-7, NLT)

It's out there somewhere for each of us. I'm talking about the finish line. Paul seems to have clearly caught sight of his and he's encouraging Timothy to believe that his is still to come. And he's challenging his protege to think about what is still to come and take action. He's asking Timothy to be faithful with the Gospel, even though many people won't want to hear it the way Timothy is going to lay it out there. They're searching for something new - something now that will take their minds off what they see as drudgery. So Paul is telling his friend how to proceed, to understand that it isn't over yet for Timothy even though the Apostle is nearing death himself.

So how can we apply this ourselves, especially those who aren't "called to full-time, professional service"? Frankly, I'm challenged to see that old saw as an attempt to cloud the real issue at hand. Nobody is called into Christianity as a "vocation" ... we're drawn to it as an avocation! We don't serve out of some warped sense of duty and dread (at least we shouldn't). We embrace the fact that we are imperfect creatures who God loved so much that He provided Jesus to redeem us. Frankly, I'd like to capitalize the third word in the passage I cited so it reads, "Preach the Word of God" because that's one of the names used to describe Jesus. And in the context of what Timothy is challenged to do (as are we), I think it is most appropriate.

The finish line to the Crooked Path will come soon enough. It may be right around the corner for some. But I'd wager that, for most of us, there is significantly "more to come" and we need to embrace that. Much of it will be boring, some will be exciting, and some will be outright difficult. There are those who will experience far more than "their share" of the difficult times. To all, the exhortation from one who has neared the finish and sees the face of the One for whom he ran rings true ... "Work at it, spread the Gospel, expect difficulty and rejection. In the end, you will find it really wasn't anything at all compared to what God has in store when you cross your finish line."

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