Death, who knows when it will come? Some people will die suddenly; others may have the anticipation of death for weeks, months, or even years.
Having lived my life as a minister and a correctional officer, I have seen death in many forms. I’ve been in the hospital room when a person has the opportunity of saying goodbye to loved ones a short time before passing into eternity. I have also been a first responder to several murders: life taken unexpectedly in an instant.
The Apostle Paul had a historic ending. Nero executed him; so, in that case, his death came suddenly; however, knowing of his pending execution, he had an opportunity to say good-bye.
Paul’s good-bye tells us so much about his life and heart.
Because of his imprisonment in Ancient Rome, Paul did not know when, or how soon, his execution would take place, but common sense did tell him it was near.
The last letter Paul wrote from his prison cell is the book of 2 Timothy in the Bible. His final words are found in 2 Timothy 4:6-22.
He knew his time was short (v6). He summed up his life in verse seven, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:”
Paul acknowledges that Christian life and life, in general, is a fight. Making correct decisions, doing the right thing, the pain caused by outside forces, the struggle of relationships, the daily toil of our jobs, and the battle for survival are only a few of the things we must fight in our lives.
Just like a boxing match, life will consist of times when we need to duck, times when we will get hit, at times we will need to pick ourselves up off the canvas. There are times in life we can raise our arms in victory and times when we are walloped so hard, we wake up and ask what happened. Regardless, however, if we receive a devastating blow or deliver the knockout punch, we all must get back into the ring the next day.
Sometimes, the greatest gems of communication are the smallest of words. “I have finished my course.” It’s not “the course” it is “my course.” God’s plan for our lives is specific. He did not create the universe then sat back and say, “Let’s see how all this turns out.” God had a plan, and He has a purpose for each one of us.
Paul finished his course; how are you doing on yours? God does have a plan for your life. It starts at salvation and continues until we are with Him in glory. How to find God’s will for your life is revealed in Romans 12:1-2. That will be a topic for another day, but for now, back to Paul’s farewell.
The last part of Paul’s summary was that he kept the faith. In every fight of life, Paul had faith in God to get him through.
When the trials of life are upon us, it is like being in a swamp. Our goal is to get out of the mess. God is with us each moment. He is more than willing to help us. God also has a reason for us to be in the swamp. He may want to teach us something, He may want us to gain experience so that we may help someone in their swamp, but either way, our swamp experience is for His glory. Understanding that God is working in the swamp, even when we do not know what He is doing, is a large part of faith. More faith will be required to leave the swamp.
God will get us out of our messy predicaments one of two ways. He will either pick us up and place us on dry ground. This option is what we usually want Him to do – get us out of this mess as quickly and as clean as possible. God’s second option is often not our first choice – He grabs us by the hand and drags us through the swamp to the other side. This option typically means we go deeper into the swamp and further into the mess before we are on dry ground.
Living by faith understands that no matter how messy life gets, God is in control, His will is being worked out, and in some way, He will use you for His glory (Remember Paul was in prison waiting for execution; a very messy situation indeed).
Are you fighting a good fight, on your course, and keeping the faith?
Preacher Johnson is pastor of Countryside Baptist Church in Parke County Indiana. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: www.preacherjohnson.com. E-book: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00TUJTV2A If you email, inform me where you have seen Preacher’s Point. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.