The month of May signals the end of another academic year on the college campus. College students head off to summer jobs or internships.
Some look forward to a few weeks’ break before summer classes start. Some head home for rest, relaxation and time with family. Some head off for service or missions assignments. Quite a few graduate and step out into the world still in search of their first “career” job.
The month of May is filled with transitions, changes in circumstances and challenging situations.
Transitions, changes in circumstances, challenging situations: That sounds an awful lot like my life and your life, doesn’t it?
As a disciple of Jesus Christ, maybe you’ve found yourself at points of transition in your life (even though your college years are long gone).
Maybe you’ve experienced change, new locations, new challenges and uncertainty. It is in times like this that I am reminded of the encouraging words of the Apostle Paul who was facing the ultimate transition, his impending death:
“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.”
– 2 Timothy 4:6-8 (NASB)
As Paul looked back upon his life as a disciple, he felt as if he had fought a good fight and finished running the race course set before him. He had stayed faithful as a disciple.
What an encouragement: to have lived as a faithful disciple in such a way that you can approach death with such confidence!
But there is something else in this passage: something that helps us better understand Paul’s encouragement to his contemporaries and to us; something that helps us see transitions, changes, endings and beginnings from the proper perspective.
Paul’s death was imminent, but we are still here.
- We are still here.
- Let that sink in to your heart.
- We are still here.
- For most of us, death isn’t imminent.
- We are still fighting the fight.
- We are still running the race.
- We are still keeping the faith.
There is an interesting word used by the New Testament writers that helps us better understand what this sort of faithfulness looks like. The word is prosmeno and is means “to continue in” or “to remain.” The Book of Acts records Barnabas encouraging the believers at Antioch:
“ Then when he arrived and witnessed the grace of God, he rejoiced and began to encourage them all with resolute heart to remain true to the Lord.”
– Acts 11:23 (NASB)
Even if transitions cause change in our location or situation, we must (as Paul certainly did) continue living the life of the faithful disciple.
Even if circumstances are altered radically, our journey with Jesus continues. There are no summer vacations in our life as a disciple. There is no time off. There is no down time.
Until our end is imminent, we should stay at the work of the disciple. We should continue to do battle. We should continue to run the race before us. We should remain at the work and the life that God has placed before us.
Transitions do not mean that we stop focusing on the essentials of our life and calling as a disciple. Paul’s life was marked by a consistent faithfulness to preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, making new disciples and growing those disciples. Our life can have that same laser focus.
Even as we transition to new settings, change circumstances, encounter new situations or go to new locations in life, let’s remain with Jesus as His disciple!
Just recently I have been able to encourage students to continue running the race and have watched those college students live out what it means to remain.
They didn’t quit in the face of changes in circumstances. They didn’t cease living the life of the disciple because of challenging circumstances. They remained.
- Kendall didn’t let the end of the semester approaching hinder her from being bold about her faith in Jesus Christ with her classmates and co-workers.
- Destyne approached a decision point in her academic career and followed Christ boldly as his disciple, embracing his call and desires for her life.
- Austin found himself in an urban area for his spring break surrounded by refugees to the United States. In that very different set of circumstances, he discovered that he could be used of God as a disciple to love and communicate with internationals.
- Becca, when faced with making plans for her summer, followed God boldly to serve as a discipler of teens through her local church.
- Both Ellisa and Jesse made plans to return home for the summer. Instead of taking a summer away from ministry, both are volunteering in the youth ministry of their local church.
What is it that you will continue making the priority in your life? What is it that you will remain at when situations and circumstances change around you? Will you remain true in your commitment to Christ and your life as His disciple in the midst of transitions?
We are still on the journey. We are still here. We have not yet reached the end of our course. We are remaining in the fight. We are remaining in the race. We are remaining in the faith.