Tomorrow, my day will start reallllllllllly early in the morning. Somewhere around 5:30 AM, I will pull out of my driveway for a road trip to Miami with my son. It will be a quick trip - down and back in one day, but I'm hoping it will go well for us and be a good memory. We are heading down there to watch a young man graduate from college that we have befriended - a huge accomplishment for anyone, but especially for him.
We are in this together.
When God brings someone into your life, He does this for you to be able to influence them and mentor them and maybe even disciple them in the faith. I am somewhere in that process with this man, but I am committed to continuing to be there for him. Years ago, we started meeting together because we had similar experiences. I've kept in touch with him and checked in on him, and tomorrow, I will celebrate with him. When he walks across the stage and receives his hard-earned degree, I will be cheering for him. And as he heads out into this big 'ole world to take on his next adventure, I will be praying for him. My hope is that something I have said or done will help him understand that God is at work in his life and is wanting to change his life. I think that is what God is looking for from all of us - that we would find people who need Jesus and that we would share that truth with them and that we would continue to be in relationship with them. Then, I think He wants our relationship with Him and them to convince them to think about what that means for them.
In 2 Timothy, Paul is writing a young man (for the second time). This young man has been with him since he met way back in Acts 16, where he took young Timothy on the journey that strengthened churches in the faith and help them grow in numbers daily. Fast forward a few years and Timothy is now a Pastor and is timid and fearful and nervous, at times, so he needs a Paul. He needs another man to come alongside him and pour into him and pray for him and empower to do the work God has created him to do. Don't we all need that?!?
Before Paul launches into his reasons for this letter, he reminds Timothy how he feels about him. Timothy will need to remember that as he reads about laying aside his fear. He will need to remember that as he recalls people who have deserted the work they are carrying out. He will need to remember that as he learns to deal with false teachers and the opposition they will bring. He will need to remember that as they look at the "terrible times in the last days". He will need to remember that as he is reminded of impending persecution and his need to stay grounded in Scripture "so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." And, he will need to remember that when Paul departs from this world.
Paul starts this letter with a great truth about how God feels about Timothy. That kind of assurance should be life-changing, and trust me on this, once you understand how God feels about you, you never get over it. It can be easy to skip over this reminder, because it was placed at the very beginning of the letter but I believe it sets the tone for everything The Lord will accomplish through him:
"I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also." (2 Timothy 1:3-5)
I had a similar upbringing to this - my grandmother taught my mom who Jesus is, and then she taught this same thing to me. And now, He lives in me also. Like Timothy, I started in ministry as a young man, and like Timothy, I spent way too much time in the beginning concerned with what other people thought. I let their opinions of me affect me too much and I let that drive my responses. Now, because He is living in me and working in me, I am learning and living in the fact that He is with me. As a result, He continues to change me and grow me into who He wants me to be.
Tomorrow, as I watch my friend cross that stage and achieve a goal some thought he would never attain, I am wondering what God has in store for him next. I don't know what challenges the coming years will bring, but I do God know has been with him all of the time leading up to now. And if he will remember what Paul wanted Timothy to remember, well then who knows arenas he will walk in?!? I'm looking forward to seeing what God does.
Maybe now is a good time for you to stop and think about who taught you and persuaded you to follow Jesus. Who showed you what sincere faith in Jesus looks like? What tests did God take them through to show them this, and how did they pass those things on to you? And while you're reflecting on this, what things is God trying to show you now? Maybe there is a Timothy in your life that you need to be pouring into, and if there is, be prepared to walk with them through whatever life brings - even if it means you need big cups of coffee to help with early morning departures for road trips.