Life is like a book. Some books are long. Some are short. Some chapters are long. Some chapters are short.
“For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6-9).
The New Living Translation notes this as “Paul’s Final Words.” As I sit here rereading those words I am saddened by the finality of it all. I wonder how many months or years had passed since Paul had written, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14). How long was it between, “I press on” and “I am now ready to be offered…the time of my departure is at hand. I have finished…”?
- Fifteen pages (Lord, teach me to number my chapters. That’s how many pages, in my Bible, between the two verses)
- 440 verses (Lord, teach me to number by verses)
- Six years (61 AD – 67 AD) (Lord, teach me to number my years)
- That is 2, 190 days (Lord, teach me to number my days.)
And lest you think Paul had it easier than you, remember that both verses were written while he was in prison.
“An Arabic proverb teaches that the dawn does not come twice to awaken a person. Opportunity knocks but once. An opportunity missed will eventually bring ample repentance. I have one chance to impact my world.”
Clarence Mac Cartney told a story of an old rabbi. He used to say to his people, “Repent the day before you die.”
“But,” they said, “Rabbi we know not the day of our death.”
“Then,” he answered, “repent today.”
“Are there opportunities you are neglecting today that may soon vanish forever? Today is yours. Tomorrow may be too late.” (With the Word Commentary by Warren Wiersbe)
“We must capture the moment. Take the opportunity when it arises. Do not hesitate. Do not waiver.”
I arrived in Africa one week before my twenty-third birthday. I used to hide under the cover of being young. There, they value age. I would mention to Sister Rodenbush about being young but knowing that one day (when I get old enough) I would accomplish great things for God. She was always kind and encouraging. But when I was about thirty, she told me something like, “Jim, you’ve often said when you are older you will accomplish great things for God. You’re older. You need to stop saying that. Now is the time to start doing it.” It was a major turning point in my life. I think God sends several notable turning points in life. They become God-moments and road-posts in the journey.
Robert K. Rodenbush once said, “Very few people remember how you start your ministry, even less remember what you do in the middle. But, everyone remembers how you end.”
I am beginning to have my aches and pains. But, I don’t want to reach the end of life with the “pain of regret” so I will now suffer the “pain of discipline.” Endure the pain of discipline today so you won’t have to endure the pain of regret tomorrow.