Keeping the Faith

Life Notes—October 21, 2010

“As for me, I am already being poured out as a libation, and the time of my departure has come.  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness…” 2 Timothy 4:6-8a 

In his second letter to Timothy, Paul is likely near death, saying he is ‘being poured out as a libation’ (offering or sacrifice).  He claims to have ‘fought the good fight’ and ‘finished the race’ and ‘kept the faith.’  I do not know a lot about Paul’s life, but I know he was sick and in prison for at least a portion of his latter years.  He endured whatever suffering and hardship he encountered and kept his faith, in spite of the difficulty. 

Lately, I’ve done a lot of reflecting on the life of my mother and this scripture makes me think of her.  Her father, whom she adored, died when she was a teenager.  She lived through the Great Depression.  She dealt with significant and recurring episodes of mental illness on the part of her husband and a child. My father died young and unexpectedly, leaving her to raise four children between the ages of five and fourteen.  She turned 82 last April and few people live to that age without facing significant hardships and losses.  Yet, she endured and kept her faith to the end. 

Many of you know she suffered a stroke in late July, from which she would not recover, passing from this life earlier this month.  She was not able to communicate effectively after the stroke, but on one of her last days I was praying a long, rambling prayer with her.  I was thanking God for her life growing up in a small, Kansas town, and for her sisters and brother and mother and father and her children and grandchildren and named many of the blessings and difficulties she had endured.  And she broke in to say, “Yes, thank you, God!  Thank you, God!  Thank you, God!”  Had I been in the condition her stroke left her, I might have been talking to God, but probably not in a thankful way. 

My mother fought the good fight, she finished the race and kept the faith.  I have no doubt there was a crown of righteousness awaiting her on the other side.  Do we face our hardships with the boldness and endurance of Paul…..or of mom?  We have many examples of faithful endurance in our First Church family.  It is probably in our best interest to honor and learn from their example. 

Tom’s sermon at the downtown services this week is, “The Blessings of Hardship,” based on 2 Timothy 4:6-8; 16-18.  Life worship begins at 9:40 in Brady Hall.  Traditional worship is at 8:30 and 11:00 in the sanctuary.  Mitch is preaching at the west campus, where contemporary worship is at 9:00 and 11:00.  His sermon is the second in a series titled, “Hope Floats: Dove,” based on Genesis 7:11-8:12. 

Come home to worship this Sunday.  Strugglers welcome!

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator

One thought on “Keeping the Faith

  1. I very much enjoyed this newsletter, which summarized the life and the wonderful qualities of our family member, Jean Hildenbrand. She will be missed.


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