How do you move forward when you’re running out of steam? The Apostle Paul’s dedication, expressed to his understudy, Timothy, is both perplexing and empowering — because Paul faced more difficulty and opposition than we can comprehend. If he faced it, and endured, we can, too, if we embrace his not-so-secret secret of success.
The man who faced an insane amount of hardship could not be stopped. “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering,” he wrote, “and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award me on that day —and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:6-8, NIV)
Take a look at a mere summary of Paul’s hardships in 2 Corinthians 11:16-30:
“Let no one take me for a fool . . . Whatever anyone else dares to boast about — I am speaking as a fool — I also dare to boast about. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.”
WHO’S PLAYING THE FOOL?
Like the Corinthians, we might mistake Paul for a fool — but that’s what everyone who is not sold out to Christ thinks of those who are. Paul was unstoppable because he kept his eyes on Jesus, who he was in Him, and what He called him to do. That’s how he could fall forward after so many “setbacks.” His setbacks merely laid the brick and mortar for his comebacks – and a legacy we admire ages later. Paul fought the fight, finished the race and kept the faith. The same can be true for you.
An apostle, a prophet, priest, pastor or missionary you may not be. But you may be a parent, a son, daughter, business person, student, employee, or retiree. Don’t let a title trick you. Your title is not nearly as important as your task — and you must make sure you don’t swerve from it. Your task is to pour yourself out – in Jesus and for Him – wherever you are, throughout your lifetime.
In Jesus you have a bottomless reservoir of resilience – if you ask for it. Paul drew from His waters – and found the secret Source to keep giving. If you drink from the same Well, you will, too.
Following God, truly following Him, is a battle. But it’s the right battle, a good battle. God didn’t call you to run a sprint. He called you to run a marathon. Keep your heart, mind, strength and soul on Him and your pace will be preserved. He would not call you to pour out what He would not supply. You have your supply in Jesus.
NOW IT’S TIME FOR YOUR COMMENTS. WHAT RESONATES WITH YOU?