During a rather sobering and sad moment recently I stopped to ponder the toughness that is life--the inescapable fact. And how, during these moments, I praise God more and more that in my weakness--in the fact of my despair--I draw on him more and more.
When Paul parts company with Timothy in his second letter, he states plainly, that at the end of his life, he’s kept the faith in spite of the tremendous and despairing obstacles that have challenged him.
“As for me, 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. From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”
–2 Timothy 4:6-8 (NRSV modified).
The Sons of Korah have a marvellous song called It’s Over Now, that is testament to Paul’s dying conviction to running the good race.
The sentiment of It’s Over Now matches the faithful-to-the-end words of Paul’s letter. He had poured his life out completely, spending himself as far as humanly possible for the gospel of God through Christ.
Both the passage above and the song highlight the tumultuous journey of life. They’re ‘songs’ the soul sings as it passes from this life into the next.
Paul is leaving, he’s going to a better place; a place where he will finally receive that crown of righteousness--that crowning moment of ‘God’s applause’ for a life well lived as the Message has it. Not entirely unlike ‘the crown of life’ referred to in James 1:12, this crown however is received on the other side, as he comes face to face with God.
And that’s what it will be like for us too--for those having passed through the new birth. As we reflect on a modern saint’s life at its end, we can but marvel at what God was able to achieve through that one life, as the Spirit called, equipped and powered that one body, mind and soul in truth. The ordinary exponent of faith is transformed in an instant--all the pain and trial and momentary despair, worth it.
And all this through Christ who simply redeemed us back to God, and loves us now.
Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.