Seasons of the soul
"Do your best to come before winter." -Timothy 4:21a
By BISHOP ROBERT E. HAYES JR.
One thing that has fascinated me since I was a little boy is the ability of meteorologists and other scientists to predict the arrival of the seasons.
You may not have given much thought to this feat, but to me it's simply amazing how they know the exact days and times that spring, summer, autumn, and winter will arrive.
Just weeks ago, watching the evening news, I heard the TV weatherman comment: "Fall will arrive at 6:27 p.m." I jumped up from my seat, wondering from what deck of cards he pulled that nugget. Weather forecasters make such pronouncements all the time-and each time I hear one, it causes me to wonder.
Without resorting to words such as equinox and solstice, I can sum up their reports by saying it all has to do with the position of the earth in relation to the sun. Still, I sometimes think there must be a giant clock somewhere that sounds off when each new season arrives.
It boggles my mind to consider how those forecasters do some of their work.
The time is now
Perhaps the apostle Paul never thought much about when seasons arrived and departed. He did give a great deal of thought to the seasons of our lives in relation to God.
In his second letter to Timothy, his adopted son in ministry, there is a verse that speaks directly to us today during this season of change. The Scripture captures the importance of making a decision for Christ now!
It simply states: "Come before winter."
On the surface, you may think this verse merely talks about the season of winter. If you look closer, you'll discover it also has a lot to do with the winter of your soul.
It was always Paul's passion to take the message of Christ to Caesar's throne in Rome. After several missionary journeys, prison terms, and surviving numerous personal attacks, Paul indeed got to Rome and began to preach to anyone who would listen.
But it wasn't long before he was arrested and thrown into jail. Bound in chains in his prison cell, not knowing when he would pay the ultimate price of his life, he wrote to his son.
Paul said, "Timothy, time is running out! Do your best to come and take the mantle before winter."
Within his words, we hear: "Summer has passed; the harvest has ended, and all is not yet accomplished. Come now and finish the job that I have started."
Paul knew the winter of his soul, that finality of his life, was approaching quickly. He urged Timothy to secure necessary provisions and come to him right away.
His plea: "Get here and do something for God before it's too late."
That sense of urgency in Paul's words to Timothy carries the same claim on our lives today.
Too often we delay doing what we can for Christ. We think there always will be enough time; tomorrow or the day after seems soon enough for us to shore up our relationship to God and Christ. Then the winter storms blow upon our souls, and we realize we have delayed too long.
Perhaps, as you read these words today, you are in the spring of your life. Some of you have made it as far as summer or-with God's grace-to autumn.
Whatever the season of your soul, this Scripture calls you to begin thinking today about that winter of your life.
That winter will come to each of us. Paul knew this. He knew the value of time, and his voice still rings across the ages, asking:
Why are you wasting so much precious time?
What are you waiting for?
Why do you continually say: "I'll give my life to Jesus some other time"?
My dear brothers and sisters, we know neither the time nor the season when God will call us home. But like Paul, when it does come, I want more than anything to say: I did my best! I kept my pledge! I served my God! I've finished my race! I have kept the faith!
You will hear the weatherman say, "Winter will be arriving soon." I pray your soul won't be caught out in the cold.