When You’ve Finished Your Race

2 Tim 4:6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand.7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

On Friday, May 15th, 2015 I retired after 20 years of Active Duty service with the United States Coast Guard (the country’s premiere military/humanitarian service). What an unbelievable 24 total years it has been, when you include my time at the CG Academy. As I was preparing my final speech as an Active Duty Officer, I could not help but be drawn to Paul’s letter to his colleague and mentee Timothy, in preparation for his departure. I was able to use this text to highlight many very important things I’d experienced over my career both professionally and personally.

I like this text because:

Paul discerns that God is bringing him to the end of his mission. We often want clear direction of what our next step in life should be. Trust that the Lord knows and wants to direct you. “Trust Him with all of your heart… and he will direct you path,” which includes the closing of one chapter and opening of the next.

Paul really appreciated his battle. God gave Paul a passion and led him through many obstacles. He also allowed Paul to win many to his side of the battle along the way. This ensured that many would be able to continue the battle after he left. We have the opportunity to touch many along our journey and there should be many left to keep the fight alive.

Paul took some time to acknowledge his many accomplishments. His work was significant, much of which is still being realized even today. It is really easy to keep pressing and never acknowledge all that God has accomplished through us. God delights in using His Son/Daughters to carry out His work and we must acknowledge it and appreciate God’s hand is bringing it to pass.

He held his faith in high regard. The text says that he “kept the faith,” the Greek word for kept means to attend to carefully, to take care of, observe and hold in very high regard. He took very good care of his faith, feeding it, exercising it, acknowledging its source and guarding it from outside influences. Paul understood that his faith was the most significant part of his journey. It’s what sparked his passion, strengthened his endurance and help to visualize the promise. Remember that what you believe will impact your actions in life.

Lastly, Paul saw the big picture. He saw what his ultimate goal was. When we see the big picture the journey is just a little bit more tolerable. The Crown of Righteousness he knew was waiting on him, made the tough times seem a little bit better and the fun time that much more enjoyable. See what is at your finish line, it will help you press beyond your breaking point and look forward to your future.

Paul’s Valedictory letter to Timothy and the church is a perfect model for reflection on our life’s journey. A model that helped me articulate God’s greatness during my 24 years in the Coast Guard. I’m so grateful for His active role in my career and life……and I’ll tell it everywhere I go; including the next chapter….

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