“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7)
These are the words of the Apostle Paul, in his second letter to Timothy. He is living out his final days on earth, knowing he will soon be put to death.
These words, to me, sound tired but triumphant. The Christian life has not been easy for Paul. He’s been persecuted, jailed, mocked and abandoned. He breathes out these words as one who knows what a battle feels like. He knows that faith is like a cross-country marathon. Not many make it to the end because it’s so hard to keep going. But Paul knows full well who he’s running for. And he can’t wait to see him.
“Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”
It won’t be long till he receives his crown, handed to him by Jesus – the one who empowers every noble act of service.
Paul has made many sacrifices for the kingdom, and they have all been worth it. Because, in just a little while, he will see Jesus face to face – like the others who long for the King.
I will probably never know suffering like Paul’s, but I know what pain feels like. I also know what it is to hunger for my future hope because the present is too hard. But I don’t have any intention of giving up half-way through. Because life as a Christian, though plagued with difficulties at times, is full of hope and purpose, and a deep inner joy that outlasts momentary bursts of happiness. Thanks for the reminder that this is both a battle and a race – but I don’t have to win it in my own strength. Christ has already won. I don’t have to make it to the finish line on my own merits. Christ has already earned the blue ribbon. I just have to hold onto him, do what he’s called me to do, and wait for my prize. Because when I stand at the finish line I’ll be pointing to him. Every bead of sweat is worth it because I get to spend eternity with my Jesus at the end, along with the others who’ve been ‘won’ by the testimony of the runners.
In Jesus’ name, and for His glory,