Scripture: II Timothy 1:5 (NLT)
Here, the Apostle Paul is sending a gentle, yet encouraging word and reminder to his “son in the faith,” Timothy, to remember his faith. It’s a personal letter from one who generally wrote epistles and it gives us a unique and private perspective of the feelings and insecurities that both men happened to share. They were close in their relationship – close in comradeship, close in ministry, close in their feelings about Christ! They were close! They had cried together when they parted – these two men were close. Paul had circumcised Timothy so he would be more acceptable to his detractors – they were close! They had ministered together. They were close. Out of three “sons in the ministry,” the closest to Paul was Timothy. If anyone was to take over behind Paul – it was Timothy.. Paul wanted him to visit, but Timothy did not want to go even though they were close!
Timothy was ministering in Ephesus. Paul was writing from a damp, cold prison cell under Emperor Nero in Rome. Paul was alone and lonely; his mind guarded and unguarded; his spirit stable and unstable; both fearful and confident in his outlook and intentions, but needed someone to visit who knew his story, knew his journey, and knew his aspirations, objectives, and fears. Just then, Paul needed a trustworthy person who would not judge, but inspire, who would not see his desire, as a weakness, but as a human being alone in a damp cold prison who longed for his “son in the ministry” to visit. Timothy did not go!
Have you ever been in a place and a time where you wanted someone to listen and be there for you and not judge? Have you ever been in a place where you needed someone close to you who knew your situation, was aware of your circumstances; knew you were vulnerable, fearful, and doubtful? That was the Apostle Paul – the one who wrote most of the books of the New Testament; one who was snake bitten, stoned, jailed, and left for dead for his convictions. He gave, but here he needed to receive, and Timothy did not want to go! Paul needed to vent, exhale, and have company just sit there with him, listen, and acknowledge his discomfort! But Timothy did not want… to go!
I wonder if anybody here knows what it is like needing someone, wanting someone and they just don’t want to go! You need a personal letter of encouragement; a hand on a shoulder, a pat on the back, a kick in the “you know what!” You need a smile, a physical presence that somebody is listening and is aware you are going through something! Not for self-pity, but for self-healing. Paul needs Timothy’s strong, faithful presence and to be unafraid to take over, so he adds a little pressure. In verses 3-5, Paul says, “Timothy, I thank God for you and constantly remember you in my prayers. I long to see you again for I remember your tears as we parted. I will be filled with joy when we are together again. I remember your genuine faith that first filled your grandmother, Lois, and mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you.”
Timothy was a second-generation Christian, who was taught the Holy Scriptures (the Old Testament) at an early age and Paul reminds him in II Timothy 3:14, “But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. You have been taught the Holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus.” We learn early in life about fear and doubt. We learn much later about the intricacies of faith. We learn of faith when events in life knock on our door. We grow into learning! Faith becomes our learned behavior. We learn while struggling with ideologies of critical race theory, White replacement theory, and a mother’s right to choose! We learn while attempting to understand racist perpetrators who would deliberately target, non-suspecting human beings who were grocery shopping and minding their own business! We learn after devilish gun attacks on children in schools and worshippers in the sanctuary of churches! We learn after attempted government takeovers, political uprisings, and stirred-up hate speech! We learn how special it is to have mommas and grandmas, who though didn’t know a lot – they knew how to pray, “Our Father who art in heaven hallowed be thy name…”
They knew how to say, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside still waters, and He restores my soul. He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk…” Thank you, Lord, for mommas and grand mommas who teach; “If God is for me, it doesn’t matter who is against me!” It made us smile – It picked us up, turned us around, and placed our feet on. Thank you, Lord, for mommas and grandmothers who teach: “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” Thank you, Lord, for mommas and grandmothers who teach, “All things are possible with God!” Thank you, Lord, for mothers and grandmothers who teach, “Momma may have, papa may have, but God bless the child that has his own.” Remember your faith, Timothy! Remember your faith!
Through faith we can: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all else can be added unto us!” Through faith we can: “Seek and you will find; ask and it will be given; knock and the door will be open.” Through faith we can take comfort: “He sits high and looks low” and “never leaves the righteous forsaken or its seed begging for bread.” Through faith, we learn you can say, “Move mountain and it will be moved! Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen. Faith is power without limitations!
Keep your faith in the Father, faith in the Son, and faith in the Holy Spirit! Remember your faith. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
The Rev Dr. Michael W. Eagle, Sr. is the senior pastor of Grant AME Church in Long Beach, CA.