Day 5: Finish the race with friends
As Paul neared the end of his life, he wanted to encourage Timothy that the fight had been worth it. He passes on the baton of confidence that he will meet Christ, even though he is in prison from where he was eventually executed under Emperor Nero.
Reflect: Do you have many friends? I don't mean online, I mean real ones, the ones who are interested enough in you to pick up the telephone, to send you a text asking about that important meeting, to leave a message thanking you for something you have done in the past that had an impact upon them and shows that they think of you as a significant part of their life.
I think that Paul writes in that spirit here. He understands the importance of giving people flowers while they are living. Perhaps he is making the most of the time behind bars, reflecting upon who is significant in his life and is urgent in letting them know. Perhaps he knew that time was running out? Whatever his motivation, he wants Timothy to know that he has finished racing by keeping the faith, and that this fight has been for good.
It helps me to appreciate the Christian faith as a relay race across generations. There will always be obstacles and opposition. We will never have everything we think we need to get the job done. But while the baton is in our grip, it helps me to contextualise our experience in the line of others who have gone before and those who will come after us.
One writer recently said that, given the future of the planet and its potential for years to come, we are still indeed the early church, and it often feels like it. We do our best, we debate mission, we read culture, we dream. We don't always nail it, but we can deliver an authenticity in our relationships. Being poured out through hospitality, grace, forgiveness, love, encouragement, accountability - just some of the greatest traits of this early Christian church in which we exist.
So, who is your Timothy? Who do you know who needs an encouraging word? In whom do you see the glimmer of light, willing to take their place in this race for the next generation? Or who is right alongside you now, perhaps somebody you have become so used to seeing that you no longer notice them?
Prayer: Ever Present God, help me to finish this race with those you have sent me. Amen.
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