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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Thursday, October 24, 2019           

Today’s Scripture Reading | 2 Timothy 4:6–8, 16–18

As for me, I am already being poured out as a libation, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

At my first defense no one came to my support, but all deserted me. May it not be counted against them! But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and save me for his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (NRSV)

I am in awe of the confidence and the courage Paul demonstrates in this passage, in this letter to his “mentee” Timothy. He speaks clearly of a continual sense of God’s sustaining presence and power in his life. He acknowledges the way others let him down in his time of need, and yet he does not give into any anger or resentment about it. Rather, he prays for God to forgive them and to overlook it. He must have been so filled up by the power of God that he had no room left for regret or for cynicism.

In this passage, Paul reminds me of many of the Presbyterian pastors for whom I have been honored to sit at their bedsides in their last days of earthly life. Often, when I would ask them if they were scared or if there were things they needed to say, they would shake their heads no. “No, Shannon,” many of them would respond. They would then say things like, “I feel like I did my best. I am not scared. I am ready.” And indeed, they often were. Most of them had loved well, and they had been loved well. They, like Paul, had a sense of completeness. They also carried a deep trust that death would not have the final word on them. They, like Paul, were so full of the presence of God that they had no room for fear or regret. They, like Paul, exuded peace. I hope Timothy learned as much from his mentor, Paul, as I did from all of those faithful ones.

Holder of my life, increase in me a sense of your presence this day. Fill me up with your power and your peace, like you filled up Paul. May I, too, learn how to live in a way that pours out your mercy for others the way you continually pour out your mercy for me. Amen.

Written by Shannon J. Kershner, Pastor

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