February 13, 2009 • By Ed Wrather
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. - 2 Timothy 4:6-7.
A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of one’s birth. - Ecclesiastes 7:1.
What if you were in an elevator at the Empire State Building and the elevator cable snapped? What would your final thoughts be? Shamika Peterson and Joe Masoraca had that terrifying experience one Monday afternoon several years ago. Shamika said, "We were on our way down when all of a sudden the elevator dropped, like a bungee jump." "I was terrified." "I thought I was going to die." The elevator dropped 40 stories but Joe and Shamika were saved by an emergency breaking system, which stopped it at the fourth floor.
The apostle Paul’s death did not come suddenly. When he wrote the letter we know as 2 Timothy, he was facing execution as a follower of Jesus Christ and living in difficult circumstances. Since his encounter with the risen Lord on the road to Damascus he had lived each day for the Lord and his life since that encounter had been poured out for Christ. If Paul had suddenly faced death in a plunging elevator perhaps his thoughts would have been shorter as expressed in Philippians 1:21, "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain."
If you were to face death today what would your final thoughts be? Would you be thinking that you have fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith? If not, today could be the day of a new beginning for you. Paul had such a day on that road to Damascus (Acts 9) when everything changed. "Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me (Acts 9:1-4)?" "And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one. Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank (Acts 9:7-9)." Instead of persecuting the church Paul became a preacher, missionary, church planter, and writer of a large portion of the Bible through the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
Would God have to strike you blind or send an elevator plunging 40 stories to change the course of your life? I hope not. If Paul can change, you and I can change. Whatever time we have left of this life let us live it for Christ. Then our final thoughts will be similar to those of the apostle Paul who said, "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain." Solomon understood this when he wrote that the day of your death is better than your birth. It can be, if you know the Lord Jesus as you Savior and live your life for Him.