2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18 (NRSV)
Verse 6As for me, I am already being poured out as a libation, and the time of my departure has come. Verse 7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Verse 8From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
Verse 16At my first defense no one came to my support, but all deserted me. May it not be counted against them! Verse 17But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, 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. Verse 18The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and save me for his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
As the Apostle Paul writes as a mentor to his younger friend Timothy, he states that his time as a missionary is short and he accepts his impending death as like the faithful completion of a race. He has done whatever he could to bring new life in Christ to all, even the Gentiles. He is confident that the gospel message will continue so that all people might come to know the joy of following Jesus.
Paul often felt under attack from enemies on the dark side, as did Martin Luther and other faithful Christian leaders. Even so, like Paul, we can trust that we are never alone. May we say confidently with Paul, “The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and save me for his heavenly kingdom.” We are indeed people who are heirs of an incredible promise.
Most Holy God, as we race along toward our finish-line, instill in us a sense of gratitude that we might end our race with peace, joy, and celebration. Amen.