When someone’s life comes to an end, young or not so young, there is always an invitation for deep reflection. Death is poignant, and at the same time full with assurance and promise because of the faithfulness of God’s love, and what that faithfulness sparks in us.
It’s interesting how things work in harmony, separate events strung together by a thread or two of faith. Not coincidence so much as providence.
It’s probably time I restated my definition of providence. “That moment when God’s intention intersects with our faith-filled response (as believers who pay attention and listen to the Spirit).” That is a powerful combination!
So…. yesterday evening our church “Wednesday Nights Together” got off to a great start for the fall. The CLC was full with people eating supper together, followed by kids’ ministry, choir, and a ton of different study and fellowship options for adults.
For me, that means my Wednesday evening men’s small group. We wrapped up three-week study of 2 Timothy, by talking about chapter 4 then reviewing the entire book. We really enjoyed it. The epistle sounds much more like Paul than the language of 1 Timothy, and it reads as an extended “last word” from someone who knows they are about to leave this earth.
We talked about a lot, but of particular interest to our conversation was the following passage: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim 4:7).
“None of us around this table qualify for the ‘Fathers who aren’t in heaven‘ group” (they’re all in their 30’s and 40’s), I said. “But we all have a significant amount of time left in terms of fighting the good fight, continuing the race, and keeping the faith. So, do you all believe you have something left to do?”
The guys came up with a variety of answers. But the one that grabbed my attention the most was the man who said that he knew he’d made a difference thus far in his life, but he hadn’t done anything like, “a Jonas Salk. His work changed the lives of millions of people.”
I appreciated his conviction that God still has great things for him to achieve. But the equivalent of a polio vaccine is not what God is looking for (unless that’s what we have in us, waiting to come out) in terms of our response to the invitation to live.
“I believe this is a thought from Mother Teresa,” I said. “Although she gets credited with a lot of free-floating quotes that would otherwise be unattributed. God does not necessarily call us to do great things… so much as to do small things, with great love.”
God does not necessarily call us to do great things… so much as to do small things, with great love.
I deliberately haven’t researched the quote, because I want to share it here the way it came to me Wednesday evening. The point is that we are all called to live in the context of deliberate, proactive, intentional love. Everything we do. Giving at church, helping someone with a chore, cooking supper, serving the homeless, texting, responding to a comment on social media, worship, learning, talking with a neighbor, shopping, work, answering the phone, saying goodbye to our spouse in the morning, helping a child… all this, small things, with great love.
Okay, so back to the “things coming together” idea from the beginning. Today Rebekah and I participated in the funeral service for a friend’s mother. The key verse in the message was, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith…”
Kevin’s mother didn’t cure polio, or win a Nobel Prize… but – and this was obvious from the testimonies I heard at the service – she most definitely did a million small things, and did them with great love.
And that is most definitely what Paul had in mind when he wrote, I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
So, keep the faith – DEREK