Monday Memo 1152: Run the Race

When people ponder currents events and listen to some of the teaching that's out there, they often ask me, "Do you think the end near?" If you've ever asked me that, then you'll know my standard response is "Yes, for me it's closer than it's ever been." And it's closer for you too. None of us are getting out of here alive and unless the Lord returns, each of us are facing an end that is somewhere in our future. Paul also had to face this question and stark reality:

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. (2 Timothy 4:6-7).

Let's quickly look at what those verses have to say to us.

First, Paul saw that his life had been poured out as a "drink offering." A drink offering was to accompany some of the animal sacrifices and was usually wine. It would be poured into the fire of the sacrifice and while there would be some remains of the sacrificed animal, the drink offering was gone in the hiss of liquid meeting up with a hot flame. It was gone. That's how Paul saw his life, as having been poured out, with barely any traces of it left.

Second, Paul saw that his death was near. It doesn't sound like he was being morbid or wallowing in self-pity. He was simply facing the fact that his days were indeed numbered. As I write, I have lived more than 27,000 days. If I live another ten years, that means I would have about 3,650 days left! When I look at it like that, it means that my death, just like Paul's, is near. In fact, it could be tomorrow. That's why I don't want to spend those last days in frivolous activity, thinking the church or the Lord or society owe me something while I sit and await my end.

But then Paul looks back on his drink offering of a life and states, "I have fought the good fight, finished the race, remained faithful." For Paul to say that he finished the race, he had to know what his race was. If he fought the good fight, he had to know what and who he had been fighting. And to declare himself faithful, he had to have done what the fight and race required him to do to win. That indicates he knew his purpose, had poured out his life to fulfill it, and was at that point stepping back to reflect on the journey.

In this 'Never Too Old for Purpose' series, I'm inviting you to join me as we follow Paul's purposeful example. After Paul wrote those words in verses six and seven, he then added, "But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength so that I might preach the Good News in its entirety for all the Gentiles to hear. And he rescued me from certain death" (2 Timothy 4:17). Paul knew his purpose, which was to take the gospel to the Gentiles. He was facing opposition but saw that God was strengthening him and would preserve his life until he had reached the finish line. He still had work to do and urged Timothy to join him where he was as soon as possible.

Do you know your purpose? Are you fulfilling it? Are you content at this point in your life to be "poured out as a drink offering," perhaps less seen but still heard as you serve the needs of others? Are you assisting younger Timothys in their purpose work, providing the wisdom and perspective only age can produce? I want to do a self-assessment like Paul and be accurate in saying, "Yes, I did what I was supposed to do. I was faithful. And now it's in God's hands." May God give you the grace and vitality in your latter years to say the same thing. Have a blessed week!


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