Getting a Grip on the Future
II Timothy 4
The words of Adam Clarke, a Christian saint and biblical expositor, are appropriate here. At 84, he said, "I have passed through the springtime of my life. I have withstood the heat of its summer. I have culled the fruits of fall. I am even now enduring the rigors of its winter, but at no great distance I see the approach of a new, eternal springtime. Hallelujah!"
I believe Paul could say amen to what Adam Clarke said.
In our reading, the apostle writes, "...the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have kept the faith." Yet, he is unwavering because the Lord is present with him.
This certain faith calls to mind the old gospel song, "Nearer my God to Thee," by Sarah F. Adams. The strong affirmation of the song is that even death brings the faithful person only nearer to God.
The story is told of the death of American president William McKinley, who was assassinated in 1901. Dr. Mann, the attending physician, reported that among McKinley's last words were "'Nearer, my God, to Thee, e'en though it be a cross,' has been my constant prayer.
We come now to the close of Paul's "Swan Song". These are the closing words of a champion for the faith. These words of Paul stir our soul. They motivate us and help us to see the way we can get a "Grip on the Future".
In the II Timothy this morning we hear St. Paul giving Timothy his final instructions - and telling Timothy about his own death and what he expects. He writes:
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.
The words of this Scripture give us a beautiful picture of Paul the prisoner so near the end of his life. He is calm as he waits during his last hours in a dark cell. His words refer to the past, present and future. "I have fought a good ...
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