I Like Reading What Pollyanna Skips.
I have started a new Bible reading plan. It is Professor Grant Horner’s Bible Reading System. I first saw this on Annemarie’s blog. (she always has great links) Let me just say that it is awesome. I have been in somewhat of a rut as far as my reading goes lately. For homeschool and Children’s Church purposes I have been in the Old Testament for what seems like 100 years. (ok, really it is just 2 1/2) We have breaks for Easter and Christmas, but we are going through the OT. Story by story. With Prof. Grant, I have been going by someone else’s schedule. I still have time to read what I need to for church and school, but I am getting so much more. I can’t remember the last time I read Job. (haven’t gotten to it in the last 2 1/2 years) Wow. Reading that puts the “why mes” to a rest quickly. It also makes me appreciate the fact I do not have a spouse or friends like his.
I have a tendency to read the same things over and over in the Bible. Which is not a bad thing in and of itself. But I also tend to skip parts of it. Kind of like Pollyanna.
Pollyanna likes to skip all but the “glad texts”. Sometimes I think it would be nice to do that. Just to read about how God loves, how He promises to supply all our needs, how He’ll never leave or abandon us. Those parts of the Bible are refreshing to a weary soul. But something I read lately that really stood out to me is not a happy text. It is really quite sad. 2nd Timothy. Now I now some people might wonder why I think it is sad. It starts out somewhat happy:
1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus,
2To Timothy, my beloved child:
Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
Paul is writing to Timothy whom he calls “my beloved son”. You just don’t call someone that unless you actually mean it. But not too much later it takes a turn for the sadder:
15You are aware that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes.
Can you believe that it says all have turned away from him? That is so sad. Paul is writing this letter from prison and everyone has abandoned him. Fortunately one person came to his aid:
16May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains, 17but when he arrived in Rome he searched for me earnestly and found me— 18may the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that Day!—and you well know all the service he rendered at Ephesus.
In chapter 2 Paul is exhorting Timothy. It is like he is he trying to say so much in so few words:
be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus,…
Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead…
14Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. 15Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 16But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17and their talk will spread like gangrene….
So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace,….
Chapter 3 goes on to warn Timothy that people will come into the church with false teachings and lead people astray. He tells Timothy to keep preaching the gospel of Jesus. Keep bring the message of Scripture:
16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
Then comes chapter 4:
1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
6For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8Henceforth 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.
9 Do your best to come to me soon. 10For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. 11 Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry. 12 Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. 13When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments. 14 Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. 15Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message. 16At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! 17But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. 18The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
19Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus. 20Erastus remained at Corinth, and I left Trophimus, who was ill, at Miletus. 21 Do your best to come before winter. Eubulus sends greetings to you, as do Pudens and Linus and Claudia and all the brothers. 22The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.
There are so many things that stand out in this chapter it is hard to know where to begin. For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. People who had worked with Paul and been a part of his ministry had left him. Here is Paul in a time of true need, and they LEAVE him. We don’t really know why Crescens and Titus left him. Maybe they were scared of persecution. But Demas-he left because he was in love with this present world. How sad.
Luke alone is with me. Luke was the only person who stood by Paul through everything. I hope that if I am ever in a situation where I have to choose to be like Demas or Luke, I choose to be a Luke. May it never be said that I am in love with this present world. I want to see the new world. The one God Himself is our light source.
Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry…bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments. He is not asking for much. Bring a person who is useful to his ministry, some books, paper and a cloak. I can’t decide what touches me the most in that. The fact that he was about to be put to death for his faith and he is asking for books and paper to help someone else pick up where he left off, or that he is asking for a cloak. Right now we are having the worst winter I can remember. I cannot imagine being in a prison cell, without a coat.
Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. 15Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message. Wow. I can’t fathom what it must be like to be turned over to people who will execute me and to know who is responsible for me being turned in. Paul wants Timothy to come to him, but gives him a warning on who to look out for.
19Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus. 20Erastus remained at Corinth, and I left Trophimus, who was ill, at Miletus. 21 Do your best to come before winter. Eubulus sends greetings to you, as do Pudens and Linus and Claudia and all the brothers. 22The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you. In closing Paul greets his close friends one last time and urges Timothy to try to be there before winter. Once again, Paul does not have a coat to keep him warm. It is just so sad.
But there is also something encouraging in this letter of Paul’s. Paul does not grumble. He does not complain or whine that it is “not fair”. He knows his time is near and he is ready for it:
the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8Henceforth 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.
Even though this world has some wonderful things, one day it will end. When it does I want to be ready like Paul. So I will keep reading. And serving. And learning. Because one day I want to receive a crown of righteousness, too.