A Tender Ending
Lord God, my life has ridden a current of relationships. I thank You for each person; show me how to bring Your love to them.
Read 2 TIMOTHY 4:9-22
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law” (Rom. 13:8, NRSV).
There is a tender poignancy here at the end. What is on Paul’s mind are not brilliant theological arguments, but memories and moments of people, the web of relationships in which Christ has dwelt (similarly in Colossians and Romans). There are the disappointments (Demas who has fallen in love with this present age, v. 10); there were Phygelus and Hermogenes (1:15) who deserted him. It is good to remember that ministry always includes some heartbreak in relationships whenever we resist cultivating a safe and insignificant life. Yet there is the lifted heart when Paul remembers Onesiphorus (1:16, 4:19), who like Titus walked into Paul’s crushed life when he was ready to throw in the towel. (“But God who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus” 2 Cor. 7:6).
Alexander the coppersmith (14) also offers clues to the pattern of Paul’s life. Notice how Paul dealt with personal enemies. He speaks the unvarnished truth: “he did me a great deal of harm” (14). But he immediately releases him to the Lord, who will repay him for his deed. He is released, with no road to bitterness.
And a final touch: Paul knows he is at death’s door. But he asks Timothy to bring the books and parchments. Incredibly, Paul is not shriveling in spirit, closing down to wonder; he is expanding in grace, widened by glory, thirsty to the end. I remember standing overlooking a rambling mountain stream in a fragrant rhododendron thicket. As my father and I watched the stream dance in the sunlight, it seemed to speed up as it approached a waterfall where it would jump off the side of the mountain. “I want to be like that,” my father said. So do I.
Is the stream of wonder, joy and the laughter of the resurrection still glittering in you as you age? If not, talk to God about it.
Lord, when the shadows lengthen in my life, may my wonder lengthen; may a burning hunger for You well up within me.
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