If we listen close enough, we can almost hear the scrape of the calamus reed across the parchment, taste the sorrow of Paul's tears, and feel the ache of his heart in being left alone. "Make every effort," he writes, "to come to me soon; for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me."
For a moment, we sense the reality of his imprisonment and find ourselves wondering if the distress is greater than he can bear. But in recalling the words he wrote earlier to the Corinthians, we find Paul had learned a great and powerful secret. He said that God's grace was sufficient for all he faced because "[His] power is perfected in [our] weakness," (2 Corinthians 12:9). There was a much greater reward waiting for him than he could ever hope to gain here on this earth.
It is as if he recalls this same thought and, picking up the writing reed, he finishes his letter to young Timothy. "Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service. But Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. When you come bring the cloak which I left at Troas with Carpus, and the books, especially the parchments" (2 Timothy 4:11-13).
In Second Timothy, we are given a rare glimpse into the life of one of God's most precious servants. Paul had been faithful. He had lived his life in obedience to the Word of God. Casting aside his own desires in order to do the Lord's will, time after time he had walked away from things of this world--desires and temptations that had the potential to draw him away from God's plan and purpose for his life. Now his life was drawing to a close.
You may think this is not a fitting way to end one's life--alone and suffering--especially after serving God so faithfully. It is difficult to understand until we step aside from what we think is right and ask God to open our eyes to His eternal plan. It is not what we do for God that is important. It is our love and devotion to Christ that bring the greatest reward.
God sees the inner lining of our hearts. He sees our hurts and fears, but He also is aware of the great potential our lives contain. He is committed to preparing us to live and serve Him for all eternity.
Trials and testings teach us how to trust Him more completely. We study the circumstances of life by the light of His truth. Trials last for a season, but the knowledge we gain from the experience remains with us throughout time. He stretches our faith to prove that it is strong and binding. When He is sure it will hold, He sends His greatest blessings our way.
From the point of his conversion on the Damascus Road until his death, Paul lived for one reason, and that was to tell others about Jesus Christ. He literally explained the Christian life to us through his devotion, determination, and many writings to the churches throughout Asia Minor. Even before his conversion, Paul was a scholar, having sat under the teaching of one of the greatest instructors of his day. Yet all he learned in Gamaliel's schoolhouse paled in comparison to the truth he gained in God's classroom.
Though he faced unbelievable circumstances, God gave Paul the strength to overcome each one. His words of hope and truth refresh us and keep us focused on the object of our faith--the Lord Jesus Christ. Instead of being overcome, Paul became the overcomer.
Timothy's conversion to Christ and call to the ministry were a direct result of Paul's instruction and influence. Now at the end of his life, the one thing the aging apostle wanted most was the company of a valued friend.
All the blessings and teachings of Paul come together here in this fourth chapter of Timothy. His love of God was not deferred. His desire to remain faithful to the Lord he served held fast. He had truly fought the good fight, finished the course set before him, and could look forward to the reward God had waiting for him.
Every trial, every test that comes your way is tailored by God to fit His will for your life.
Life was not too difficult for Paul. It was just right. Though it was extremely trying at times, it trained him how to live the Christian life by faith and not by sight. At any point, had Paul given up, we would have missed a great and mighty blessing as a major portion of the New Testament would have gone unwritten.
Paul had no way of knowing his trials and exhortations were being used to complete a large portion of God's holy Word. While God's Word is now complete, we remain His personal testimony. We may never know what blessing our obedience will bring to the life of another. Therefore, let godly obedience and determination be the fiber of your life. And the God of all peace and comfort will bless you perfectly.
Copyright © 1997 August IN TOUCH magazine
IN TOUCH MINISTRIES®, ITM, Inc.
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