Practical Proverbial, from 2 Timothy, 18 June 2019

Do your best to come to me quickly, for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia.  2 Timothy 4:9-10 (NIV).

Here are a few more realistic, matter-of-fact verses that give credibility to Paul’s account.   Paul was asking Timothy to come quickly to his aid because Paul knew his death would be soon.  At the end of his ministry, the apostle felt deserted because some of those whom he had trusted to partner with in that ministry were gone.   Demas, who was also mentioned in Colossians, had fallen away from Paul’s work, and had gone to Greece.   Crescens is mentioned in Scripture only here.  While we don’t know whether or not he and Paul parted on bad terms, we do know he was away.   And Titus, to whom Paul would write another New Testament letter, had also left.   Because of that book of Titus, it’s unlikely that he and Paul had a falling-out.

Sometimes people are in our lives for a season; other times they’re in our lives for a reason.

No matter the season or reason, Paul was mostly alone and lonesome.  Have you ever felt that way?

I grew up that way.   We moved around a lot when I was a kid because my Dad worked for the Army.  We’d live someplace for a few years and then move to a new place.   We’d be there just long enough to make some friends and then leave them.   One summer, I felt especially lonely after moving back to Iowa.   I been able to re-connect with friends I had known before, and felt abandoned by my friends from other places.   Kids don’t write letters, this was before cell phones, and long-distance phone calls weren’t cheap.

So I can identify with how Paul must have felt here; perhaps you can too.   Perhaps there has been a time in your life when you were (or at least felt) abandoned by the people you counted on most.   Perhaps you’re in that season of life now.

You know what’s coming:   we’re never alone.   Paul was never really alone because Jesus was with him.   I was never really alone during that long Iowa summer because Jesus was with me.   You’re not alone now, even when the wolves howl outside, because Jesus is with us.

“Some consolation that is,” you might be thinking.   “I can’t see, feel, or sense Jesus here.”   Yet He’s here all the same.   He closes your eyes at night and keeps watch by your bedside.   He feels your loneliness when you feel abandoned.   He cries inside when you do.   He’s real because you’re real, because He promised to always be with us, even to the end of the age.

For further reading:  Titus 3:12, Colossians 4:14, 2 Corinthians 2:13, Matthew 28:20, 2 Timothy 4:11

In season and reason, You are with me now, Lord Jesus.   I’m asking for Your comfort and help.

Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 7 August 2017

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.  People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own.  Hebrews 11, verses 13-14.

I’m a wanderer.   I learned it as a kid.   We first moved in 1969, when I was three, moving from Bloomington to Minneapolis, Minnesota.   That isn’t very far, but it’s a quantum leap for a family from the suburbs.  I went two years to an old elementary school before they tore it down in 1974.   That year, I spent a year in private school in east Minneapolis.   1975-1976 saw me attend two different third grade classes, one in Iowa and the other in Pennsylvania.  From 1976 to 1978 we lived in Pennsylvania, 1978-1980 in Oklahoma, 1980-1983 back in Iowa, and 1983-1985 in southern Indiana, which I refer to now as ‘home.’  After that, I joined the Air Force, and spent 1985 in Texas, then 1986-1989 in Texas, Maryland, and TDY (on temporary duty) around the world.   From 1989 to 1992, I lived in Italy (living in two different towns during that stay).   From 1992 until 2004, I lived in Colorado, residing in six different places in twelve years.  2004-2005 found me in Montana, then 2005 back in Colorado before moving to Texas.   Since 2005, I have lived full time in Texas, but have traveled all over the country (and the planet), and have lived in three different houses in two towns.  After fifty years of wandering, I’m finally in a home I’ve always dreamed of.   Wouldn’t you know that even my time here may be short, in jeopardy, and that there could be more wandering just up ahead.

Sometimes I feel like I’m looking for a country of my own.

I wish I could say that my story is one of deep public faith, but it isn’t.  In fact, more times than I care to admit, my faith has wandered too and has been weak with my practice of it weaker.  I’ve been rightfully accused of being a hypocrite, and Billy Joel could have once described me as “a man with so much tension and far too many sins to mention.”  I’ve tried, but in following Jesus, trying isn’t enough.   You have to “do” to be believeable to other people, and sometimes what I’ve done has been quite opposite of what I believe.

You know what?  I’m in good company.   Abraham was a wanderer and God did wonderful things through Him.   Jacob was a deceitful wanderer and God led him to live an amazing life.  Moses, David, Jeremiah, John the Baptist, and finally Jesus Himself were all wanderers who did incredible, great things in the lead-up to the time of their Messiah.  After Jesus, all twelve of His disciples wandered, going from place to place to spread the Good News of the friend-Savior they knew.  Some of them were murdered for it; only one lived into old age.

I bet all those people were looking for a country of their own.   I wonder, then, if the country mentioned by the writer of Hebrews isn’t actually the nation of Heaven.   Shakespeare called death “the undiscovered country.”  Hamlet lamented that his life was all sorrow and he longed to journey into the undiscovered country of what lay beyond.   Don’t we all, yet here and now are all we know.   This is where we make our bones, discover what it means to live.   And the longer any of us live – and wander – the more we find that the only real meaning in the fallen world is found in Jesus Christ.  In Christ there is no more wandering.   In Christ, the discovery is amazement and it is continuous.   In Jesus Christ there is fulfillment of all of life’s desires, answers to every question, and peace to settle all restlessness.   In Christ, we no longer need to wander.

Christ is the undiscovered country I wish to explore, yet isn’t it wonderful to be able to do so now, as best we can, in this place that’s rife with both life and imperfection?  Until my prayers are answered and I meet Him face to face, I guess I’ll continue to wander, awaiting my endless time in the country of my own that I know in hope is only a short time away.

For further reading:  Matthew 13:17, Genesis 23:4, Leviticus 25:23, Philippians 3:20, 1 Peter 1:17.

My Lord and Savior, abide with me as I wander here.