We were on our way back from Wilmington, NC years ago and our flight had been delayed in Charlotte, which delayed us getting to Atlanta (everything goes through Atlanta) and we ran across the terminal to get to our gate. As we approached the gate the lady at the desk had closed the door and gone back to her duties behind the desk. We ran up to her desk and I said, “we were delayed on our other flight and we just made it on time.” She looked up calmly and said, “that flight is now pulling away from the terminal.” I looked out the window and the plane was still connected to the walkway. I brought that to her attention but she wasn’t budging. So our choice was sleep in the terminal, or rent a car and drive the remaining 4 hours to our home in the early hours of the morning. We drove. We were so frustrated and her attitude didn’t help any. We ran to make our departure, but because it was so late at night, they made the choice to leave a little early and leave us behind. Bummer. If you have ever been left behind for anything you know how frustrating it can be and how much you feel “left out.” I could picture the people who made the flight looking out and saying, “good try buddy, but you just weren’t good enough to get on this plane.”
Years ago we took a youth group to a concert and one of the students had left his ticket at home in his other coat. I had given them their tickets early and gave them the responsibility of handling their own ticket. We were all going through the line and everything was going great, and that’s when I saw this one young man going through all of his pockets. He was searching for the ticket that was not there. He got to the gate and looked at me and said, “I can’t find my ticket. I think it’s in my other coat.” This was his favorite group and he was about to be heartbroken when I pulled out an extra ticket I had been saving for this very thing. His huge smile said it all as we passed through the gate together rejoicing that he could get in.
Paul writes in 2 Timothy 4:6-8 about his impending departure from this world. He states that he is being poured out like a drink offering and then he states a very famous statement in verse 7. He says, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.” Paul’s kingdom living was turning into kingdom looking. He mentions that he has finished his course, not his race. Why not race? He wasn’t competing with anyone else in his life of service. He knew what God wanted HIM to do and that was his course. The course is where the race is held. You play golf on a golf course, You race a car on a race course. You run a marathon on a running course. The course is where you go as you run your race. Paul’s course was different than anyone else’s, just like mine and your’s are as well. The course is where we travel, what we do, and how we do it. The end of that course is where our time on this earth is over and we cross that heavenly finish line. Paul was looking ahead on his course and he was seeing the future of a crown of righteousness awarded to him by our Lord. His goal was about to be complete and the things God did through him on this course were remarkable. He didn’t look at this upcoming time of victory selfishly thought. He reminded Timothy that the prize is there for all who follow Jesus and finish their course as well. What a great encouragement for you and me, and all those who are believers. The course we live on does have it’s share of battles though.
We know what battle is if we live for God. Ephesians 6 talks about arming ourselves for it and preparing for battle. The reason for this preparation is because that battle begins the day we give our life to Christ. We will go through many different phases in a lifetime, with many things to deal with but one thing is certain, God is faithful. That faithfulness helps give us security and strength on the course we are running and keeps us supplied with a vision for where we should go next. You see, when we are running our course, Jesus is right there with us, guiding us and lifting us up to do even more than we thought we could. His strong arm of comfort and correction guides us through the many years we get to serve Him. All He asks from us is to be faithful and to finish strong. Then when we get to our final breath, we can say, “I’ve done my best and I’ve finished.”
If you are not on the right course, then it’s time to get back on course and start making a difference on that course with the power God has put in your life. Don’t just dabble in the faith, dive in. Don’t just wander around doing nothing, live in the wonder of His grace. Make a difference in the world you live in and let God’s power direct you in the course you are on. That way when you get to the end of it all you will get to the gate and they will be waiting for you because that gate is your gate. Never too late. Never disappointed. On time and on course. DONE!!!
The Pilgrimage continues….