Come Before Winter

Reading in 2 Timothy 4 today I was moved by the grace shown by Paul at the finish. He is in Emperor Nero’s prison. That wicked one is suspicious of all Christians, intellectuals and people of influence. Paul happens to be all three.

The Second Letter to Timothy confirms that he had had one satisfactory hearing before justice; but it could only accomplish an adjournment. He is quite certain that he is near death. He longs to see his young friend Timothy, his son in the faith and fellow traveler through many adventures.

“Do thy diligence to come before winter.” Bring the cloak and the parchments.

How much time would Paul have? What was the interval until winter? Would Timothy make it? How the travel-weary Apostle must have longed to see his dearest friend one more time and to impart to him in person final rich words of counsel and exhortation.

I read these phrases and I note the comparative rush and impatience of our times. Telephones and texting everywhere. Pictures and voice on Skype. Hundreds of TV channels to assuage our restlessness.

And Paul says, ‘My dear friend, let’s try for one more time in each other’s presence before I die’. He says it with grace and with the satisfaction that there are no loose ends; that he has finished his course; that the rewards are waiting in the presence of his Master Jesus.

That his friend will follow.

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