Sunday, May 18, 2008

dying, but not alone

We all grieve in our own way.

This is an excerpt from a Bible talk my husband Steve gave the evening after his father David died. He spoke on 2 Timothy 4:9-22, written by Paul from prison as he faced his own death.

A couple of weeks ago, I remember Steve was a little concerned about writing a talk on this passage, because it's got a lot of "greet so-and-so" and "bring such-and-such" in it!

But in God's perfect timing, it gave Steve a chance to speak of his father's death, and of the comfort we have in Jesus that even in death, we are never alone.

In A.D. 64, under the reign of the emperor Nero, Paul wrote the final words of 2 Timothy, the last surviving words we have from Paul. He writes them knowing his execution is coming very soon. “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure.” (2 Tim. 4:6)

Of course this wasn’t the first time Paul had been imprisoned, and faced possible execution. But he knew there would be no acquittal this time.

You can tell a lot about someone by what they’re willing to risk for the sake of the gospel. It would have taken a lot of courage to go and visit the apostle Paul in jail. You would automatically come under suspicion yourself.

You see, we can say that we love Jesus. We can even sing of our love for Jesus. But the real test is what we’re prepared to do, and to risk, because of our love for Jesus.

And so it was when it came to the apostle Paul. What better way to show your love for Jesus and the gospel, then to go and risk everything by standing beside him.

At the first stage of Paul’s trial, he hadn’t gotten a lot of support. Everyone deserted him (v16). He may well have wondered, where are those who really love Jesus? Where are those who are going to stand up for the gospel after I’m gone?

But of course he’s not completely alone. For the Lord is with him (v 17).

My dad has been very, very sick. In fact he died last night.

He said to me last week, although he doesn’t fear what lies beyond death, the hardest thing is that it’s an experience you have to go through alone. Then he corrected himself, and said, of course I’m not alone, for Jesus is with me.

That was Paul’s terrible and yet wonderful experience. Because of that, he was able to stand firm. Even when on trial for his life, Paul is far more concerned with the cause of Christ, and the spread of the gospel, than his own survival. The Lord who rescued him, and forgave him, and restored him to favour. The Lord who delivered Paul through trial and trouble, again and again.

One last time he expects deliverance from his Lord. Except this time, it’s not an earthly deliverance. He knows he’s going to die. But deliverance into the eternal and glorious kingdom.

1 comment:

mom24 said...

Very well put. I am so glad that the Lord gave us His word - it can be so comforting...