This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare. —1 Timothy 1:18
It was the first day of our vacation, and my wife, Anna, and I were visiting a beautiful location on the Oregon coast. I was coming off of a high-pressured time of ministry. I knew we had a few weeks of rest ahead of us, yet it still didn’t seem like enough to compensate for the demanding season just passed.
Sitting there quietly one morning, alone with the Lord, I looked out at the mist that hung over the shimmering coastline, and all I could think was, “This vacation is not going to be long enough.” Before I’d even given myself a chance to enjoy the time off, I felt depressed about having to go back to work.
Then “IT” began to creep into my mind: I wonder if I’m even doing the right thing with my life. Maybe I’ve violated God without realizing it, and He’s getting even with me. “It” wasn’t enough to make me say “I quit,” but “IT” began to displace my joy with a subtle, insidious fear.
That kind of “IT” is so manifest to our minds … distracting, detouring, discouraging. “IT” rarely confronts us full-blown in the face, but rather seeps in gradually and begins to erode our clarity and confidence with thoughts like: I’m tired. I’m trapped. I’m through. The same thing has probably happened to you and will probably happen again. Let me tell you how I dealt with “IT.”
First came an inner prompting, for shortly after “IT” entered my mind, there came a whisper down in my soul: “Jack! Get real! Get right! And get going!”
I was being confronted by the Holy Spirit, and He prompted my heart (and pen) with the following words that sweetly ministered to my soul. They are words, loved ones, that I want to challenge you to apply to yourself in confronting any kind of “IT” that seeks to reduce your joy or hinder your confidence about the purpose of God being fulfilled in your life.
Let these words whisper to you heart. They’re as true of you as they are of me—they are underwritten by God’s Word of promise and backed by His Word of power. Hear them!
a. I don’t know of anyone with greater promise before them than you.
b. I don’t know of anyone with reason for higher hopes than you.
c. I don’t know of anyone with larger potential or a more certain future than you.
[Pause, please. Reflect on the truth and lasting reality of those ideas. Then proceed.]
Every one of us is challenged from time to time by “IT.” “IT” manifests in attitudes that exploit whatever struggle we may be facing and degrade our sense of confidence about who God has made us to be and called us to become. We are all called to confront “IT” … whatever that “IT” may be.
The words the Holy Spirit spoke to me also represent a declaration spoken by the apostle Paul to his son in the faith, Timothy, as he faced the “IT” that confronted him when he assumed Paul’s pastorate in Ephesus: “How could someone like me follow in Paul’s footsteps? I don’t know if I can do this.”
Paul’s letter to Timothy is both an urging for him not to back away but to remain where he was, as well as an encouraging to this young man not to let the obstacles, taunts or distresses he was facing cause him to give up.