2 Timothy 1:3-5 “I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience that without ceasing I have remembrance of you in my prayers night and day; Greatly desiring to see you being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy; When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in you, which dwelled first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that is in you also.”
Last week, I shared some comments on the little book of Philemon. The Apostle Paul both flexed his apostolic muscles and his tenderness as he rejoined a runaway slave with his original owner. “Receive Onesimus back for loves sake,” he begged.
Here again in 2 Timothy Paul focuses not on a particular church, but on an individual–Timothy. Paul had accumulated a lot of history with Timothy. He won him to Christ out of a mixed religious family. Timothy’s mother, Eunice, a Christ follower, was married to a Greek. Paul had become kind of a surrogate father in the Gospel to young Timothy.
How great it would be if we all had an Apostle Paul in our lives; a mentor who loves us enough to be both direct and yet tender.
Paul, in today’s text, is reaching the end of his tenure as one of the greatest leaders who ever lived. It is now time for him to pass the mantle of leadership from himself to one he trusted. He found that trust in this rather young but faithful follower Timothy.
The consideration of losing Paul had brought Timothy to tears. Mindful of his tears, Paul applies a tender strategy. He reminds Timothy that he will not be left alone in an alien world. Grandmother Lois and mother Eunice are held up as the models who had securely founded Timothy in his faith.
Perhaps you can relate to Timothy. You have had a faithful mom and dad to guide you through challenges of life. Parents and grandparents provide such a wall of defense for a fledgling Christian.
Paul continues his attempt to cheer Timothy. “Remember to stir up the gift of God that you received by the laying on of hands.” (My paraphrase) “God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and a sound mind.”
As I write these comments, I am remembering just such a couple who came to assist in the ministry of Phyllis and me. They were young and bright eyed as they viewed the future of their ministry with us. We grew to be very close. During the six wonderful years they were with us, we worked, prayed, and laughed together. We mentored them and they mentored our teen-aged children. The youth program grew significantly under the leadership of Mike and Vicki.
Eventually, the inevitable came to pass. Mike and Vicki had matured enough in ministry that they were invited to become the senior pastors in Mike’s home church in Minnesota. It was a sad day for all of us; but an important one for them.
I’ll never forget that day when their furniture was loaded in the truck. We delayed our last moments together as long as we could. Those moments were filled with tears and embraces. We tried to share hope for their future while we wondered what we would ever do without them.
The ensuing years have provided many opportunities for the Bachmeyer’s to experience the pain and pleasure of ministry. Like Timothy, they have exhibited great faithfulness in ministry. And they have passed on their love for the Lord to their children and grandchildren. “Their children rise up to call them blessed.”
There is a tightness in my throat as I share this poignant story from our history. If I could say anything to Mike and Vicki today, I would choose yet other words of Paul to the Philippians.
I thank my God every time I remember you.
PS It just occurred to me as I was getting ready to post this, that it would appear on Thanksgiving week. Is there a phone call, or a card, or a written note that you might want to send to someone who has mentored or helped you? Have a Blessed Thanksgiving