No Turning Back

At the end of Paul's second letter to Timothy, he writes that his time is near and he is being poured out like a drink offering. Paul is writing from a Roman dungeon. He is shackled and awaiting execution. He knows his time is short and he wants to encourage Timothy to persist in the faith.

And so Paul says, "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 to me on that day —and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing." (2 Timothy 4:7 NIV)

Paul says this looking back over his life and ministry. He has fought the good fight against the evil one, who would steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10) He has finished the race of his life, having run his leg with all his might. He has kept the faith in the face of persecution, hardship and impending martyrdom. He has done what is right and believes he will receive a crown of righteousness from Jesus on the day he meets Him face to face.

The only way to look back over my life and say what Paul says is to fight and run and remain faithful all along the way. That means, it seems to me, doing the right thing now, today. That means following Jesus no matter the sacrifice or hardship. That means persevering even when life is pain-filled and unfair. That means living for Jesus and not just for myself.

I am convinced that Jesus is pleased with an all-or-nothing consecration that follows Him even when I don't know for sure where He is leading, and that lives to please Him even when I would have other preferences. There is an old song that captures the spirit of what Paul is saying to Timothy perfectly:

I have decided to follow Jesus.

I have decided to follow Jesus.

I have decided to follow Jesus.

No turning back. No turning back.

I live for Jesus, no matter what the outcome of the current war going on for the soul of the United Methodist denomination. I live for Jesus, no matter which political party holds the Presidency, Congress or Senate. I live for Jesus no matter what the culture around me pressures me to believe and conform to. I don't have to be obnoxious about it. I can live by the truth in love. Jesus did. So can I.

I want to look back on my life and say with Paul, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race. I have kept the faith."

I live for Jesus. No turning back. No turning back.

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