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March 28, 2018 / Pastor George Fike

Come before winter

I just received a very good job review.  It was specific and affirmed my gifting and leadership in my position at our store and company. It came from my supervisor who has very demanding standards. It set a path for my future success. It attached to a significant pay increase. Everything you could hope for in an evaluation.

But as I celebrated quietly with my wife, I could not escape a feeling of melancholy. As much as I enjoy my job, it is an unfortunate second career which came to me in the late autumn of my life. I had to start over after being “let go” from the ministry.

It remains one of the greatest disappointments in my life that at the time of my unjustified termination, no one stood up for me. It was sad enough that my firing came at the hand of someone I thought to be my friend but who chose to support his action with demonstrable lies. But the greatest ache is that those who knew me best said nothing.

I can relate to the way Paul felt as he penned what we believe to be his last letter to his young protege:

2 Timothy 4:9 Do your best to come to me quickly, 10 for Demas, because he loved this world,has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia,and Titus to Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry. 12 I sent Tychicus to Ephesus. 13 When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.

14 Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done. 15 You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message.

16 At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. 17 But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom.To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

21 Do your best to get here before winter.

In a modern-day Christianity that tells us to withhold our negative feelings, to keep things upbeat, to not show the grittier side of faith, Paul pours out his feelings of loneliness, betrayal, and desire for retribution. And just as David laments in so many of his Psalms, Paul still places his hope and trust for deliverance in God alone.

Did Timothy make it to Paul before winter? We don’t know. Did he die sad and alone, or did he have the comfort of someone he loved before the end? Do you know someone who has been wounded in the fight that needs someone to come before winter?

“There, she poured out her words of grief, tearfully, in faint tones, in harmony with sadness, just as the swan sings once, in dying, its own funeral song.”  Ovid, “The Story of Picus and Canens” (Metamorphoses, book XIV:320–396)


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