2 Timothy. A favorite of mine. From a “father” (Paul) to a “son” (Timothy).
An old Paul, grizzled and weatherbeaten, imprisoned, standing at the threshold of life’s end. He has spent the better part of his adult life being shaped by joy and sorrow, victory and defeat, plenty and poverty… and all because of his love for Jesus and passion for his people.
What would you tell a young man standing in the very position you yourself stood in not more than a generation ago? It might go something like this:
It’s been a joy to watch you grow. I’m so proud of you. Run with your calling, young man. Believe deeply in the things that have been given to you… the “faith” once for all delivered. Live differently than your peers. Don’t run down foolish rabbit trails of controversy. Be devoted to the Scriptures; love God’s people with all your heart; be a good and trustworthy teacher; know your role and live into it faithfully.
Please understand that this will not be easy. You’re going to go through times of plenty and times of poverty. I know. I’ve been there. I’ve got the t-shirt and the mug (and a few battle scars) to prove it. There will seasons where you are desperately lonely. It will feel like the lights have gone out and the story is over.
When that happens, here’s what you need to know:
It’s not. It never is. Not with Jesus. The story is never over. In fact – and this is the crazy thing – at exactly the time that it looks like the whole thing has run out of steam, you can be sure that an explosion of new hope and possibility is right around the corner; the story is about to pick up a new and totally unexpected head of steam. Easter Sunday always follows Good Friday. Always. ALWAYS. The Lord is with you. He’ll never desert you. NEVER.
So endure. Hang in there. Stand, and keep on standing. Be steadfast. Be trustworthy. Be consistent. Don’t move. Don’t give way to fad or fashion. Don’t let the pressure cause you to buckle. Endure.
And remember – I’m just SO proud of you. God’s smile rests on you.