The Lord gave Paul and Peter a sense of when their time had come to die. It’s even recorded by each of them in the Bible. Both men had lived well with their short time upon Earth, and now the results were to be carried over into eternity.
They weren’t looking at their lives in terms of a normal 60, 70, 80-year lifespan. They were looking at their lives through the lens of forever. So when they knew their time had come to leave the earth, what was on their heart? What music or song of praise came to their minds when they told us that they were about to die?
For Paul, it was this:
"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." -2 Timothy 4:7
In Paul’s heart, he knew he had fought well. His biggest fight was with his own heart—as it is with me—to trust God with all the crazy circumstances that he walked through in his life.
His first fight of faith was to see the unseen as more important than the seen. Why? Because unseen is eternal, but what is seen is temporal.
"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." -2 Corinthians 4:18
Sometimes Paul couldn’t connect all the dots he saw, but he fought each day to trust God with the good, the bad, and the ugly of his life’s circumstances during his faith journey. Life was hard for him and everyone who lives "all in” for the cause of the gospel.
Life has a constant changing flow for those of us who walk in Christ. Paul captures this well in his letter to the Corinthians:
"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed." -2 Corinthians 4:8-9, emphasis added
So the fight he fought was the fight to trust God in every circumstance no matter what.
Paul experienced some terrible circumstances: he received lashes, was beaten with rods, and was shipwrecked multiple times. These were not easy times for him.
His race was long and difficult, and it must have been hard for him to keep the faith. But he continued to trust God through it all. And just like Paul, there are days that it is hard for us to keep the faith as well. But if we do, we’ll experience unspeakable joy when we cross the finish line.
Paul knew the joy of total abandonment to the will of God. I hope you see the spectacular love of Christ and that it raises a desire in your soul to be poured out for His glory and His gospel as He was poured out for you.
John's travels for ministry behind the Iron Curtain led him to found East-West Ministries International in 1993. John and his wife, Susie, live in Dallas, Texas and have a grown daughter and two grandchildren.