With each passing year, I am more acutely aware of the brevity of life. I do not want to fear death, nor do I want to ignore the inevitability of its coming. So while I prepare myself to some day meet the Lord, I also sense a deepening desire to convey to others--especially those closest to me--the Truth that will set them free.
Saint Paul, imprisoned in Rome for his second and final time, knew that his life was nearing its end. His letter to Timothy was deeply personal, and with an urgency and keen sense of what was at stake, he prepared to pass the torch to his spiritual son. He charged and exhorted Timothy to continue his work. His words are a strong call to action, and to do it persistently and patiently. (2 Timothy 4:1-8)
But what speaks louder than Saint Paul's words, is the witness of his life. Facing imminent martyrdom, he said: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7) He lived single-mindedly for an unseen reward that he knew awaited him, and he urged Timothy on toward that upward goal.
In his words I hear the clear, strong voice of one who has run the race and known his identity and purpose. He poured himself out entirely to make His Master known and loved.
How I long to run the race like Saint Paul! I can spend so much time and energy looking for someone or some thing to tell me who I am, to affirm my life’s purpose. At times, it can all feel so complicated and difficult to comprehend. But it’s not. The same Jesus who called out, “Saul, Saul” near Damascus, who healed Saul's blindness, and gave him new name and a zeal for souls, is the same Jesus who calls us by name. He wants to meet us each day, and heal and empower us to bring His love to others.
Lord, pour into me the same spirit that you gave to Saint Paul. Give me an unshakable confidence in my identity and purpose as Your beloved daughter. Give me a zeal for souls, a heart for the lost, and a passion to proclaim Your truth.
And when I near my end, may I say confidently with all the holy ones who have gone before me: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
Lord, as you bestowed on Saint Paul the gift of Timothy, also give me others to love, lead, encourage, train and teach, that together we can build Your Kingdom.
Debra Herbeck, a Jewish convert to the Church, has worked extensively in youth and women’s ministry. She has directed Pine Hills Girls Camp for the past 32 years, is the founder and Director of the Be Love Revolution, and also helps lead a ministry called i.d.916. She has written a number of books that can be found here. Debra and her husband Peter live in Ann Arbor, Michigan and are the parents of four children and five adorable grandchildren.