“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” (2 Tim.4:7)
There is an excitement about beginning something—school, marriage, our walk with the Lord, etc. — activities that we anticipate will be ongoing and long-lived. The first days, weeks, or years of study; the honeymoon years of marriage; and the first steps of obedience to God all seem to have their own momentum. But later on, when studying becomes tedious, when marriage seems to be a blur of sameness, and when following Jesus becomes an uphill climb, it is not hard to find inviting detours off the course set before us.
Of course, studying is not always tedious, and the excitement and passion of marriage are like the tide that leaves and returns. And surely we all know that the blessings of serving God far outweigh the burdens. Somehow, though, it is easy to forget the glory in the heat of battle. It is easy to simply quit. I learn several things from Paul’s short sentence of three phrases. Paul recognized God had established a course of action for his life; and it would be a fight to keep the faith to the finish.
The great Apostle seemed to be (Scripturally) obsessed with the idea of finishing. He said in Acts 20:24, “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy...” And he was able years later to tell young Timothy that he had indeed “finished [his] course” (2 Tim. 4:7). Notice he didn’t have to wait till he got to Heaven to find out that he had. When it came time to die, there was nothing left in his “To Do” box.
A Sovereign God has assigned each of us a course in life to follow, but it is we who must decide if we will stay the course. And because you and I are “weaker vessels,” it does not necessarily follow that we are more prone to give up and quit. Faithfulness, “stick-to-it-iveness,” as my childhood pastor used to say, is a virtue without a gender. (It was women, remember, who stayed at the Cross and came first to the tomb.) There may be positions and activities in God’s service that are only for men, but each of us—male or female—has a God-appointed course in life. And if we want to finish tomorrow, we’ll have to stay the course...today.