Life is not always easy. I think we can all agree on that. There are ups and downs. Twists and turns. Smooth patches and rough places. I’ve had seasons I look back on with great fondness. When I remember them, I’m filled with warm fuzzies and happy thoughts. And then there are times I’d just as soon forget.
I think we all like the ups better. It’s easier to get up in the morning. Easier to go through the day with a smile. Easier to make a plan and look at the future with hope and expectation.
Bring Mark with you when you come, for he will be helpful to me in my ministry. (2 Timothy 4:11)
What? I had to look twice at this. On it’s own, it doesn’t seem odd that Paul would say this. But if you had just read verses 6-8, you’d be saying, “WHAT???” too.
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.And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. (2 Timothy 4:6-8)
My life has been poured out.
The time of my death is near.
I have finished my race.
I’m about to get my prize.
Paul was in prison facing imminent execution. His days were numbered, and there weren’t that many left. Every day he got up wondering, “Is this the day? Will I see Jesus face to face today?”
As far as natural circumstances were concerned, it was basically over. No more ministry. No more usefulness. Done. Kaput. Nothing left to do.
Paul even said so himself. The time of my death is near. I finished my race.
Finished means done, right?
And yet……”Bring Mark. He will be helpful to me in my ministry.”
Will be helpful is future tense. Let that sink in for a minute. Future tense.
Our attitude is our choice. Where most people would have sat back and waited for execution and been content with what they’ve accomplished and looked forward to meeting Jesus face to face, Paul said:
“I’m not letting circumstances tell me when my ministry is done. Only God has the right to do that. I still have breath in my lungs, so I’m not done yet.”
Paul didn’t say, “Woe is me!” Paul didn’t say, “If only I could get out of this prison, then I could be fruitful and do ministry again. Then I could do something for God again.”
He was so full of purpose, so full of God, that he didn’t let something as tiny as prison walls determine when his ministry ended. He didn’t shrink back and quit when circumstances got tough. He found a way to make it work.
It’s not over till it’s over.
What are you waiting for?
If we wait until everything is perfect to do something, we’ll be waiting forever.
Paul didn’t focus on the prison walls. He didn’t let those walls dictate whether or not he could obey the call. He didn’t wait to see if the situation would change before he decided if he could do something. He kept pressing on. He kept moving forward.
He focused on purpose and destiny and what God put in his heart. He didn’t let adverse circumstances control his attitude or his actions. And neither should we.
If God is for us, who can ever be against us? (Romans 8:31)
What’s trying to tell you that you can’t obey the call? What’s trying to tell you it’s bigger than what God has said? What’s trying to get you to give up and quit? What’s trying to pull your focus away from your destiny?
If God is for us, it doesn’t matter who is against us. What are you waiting for? Let’s get up and go!