Let Love Take You Under
I have been consumed by many different facets in my life recently. While that is not a drastically unique situation for a college student, it does not make it any easier. I am taking a full school load this semester, working twenty hours a week at my job, doing student ministry on my dorm, hanging out with friends, and remembering what it is like to have a girlfriend again after almost three years. While none of these are fantastically difficult or not something I enjoy, the combination of all of them at once has been slightly stressful.
My school workload has been borderline ridiculous. I am taking three classes that are only eight week courses and they are all just coming to an end, meaning they all have papers, tests, and quizzes constantly. Imagine the typical amount of stress that you would have in the second half of a semester; homework, papers, mid-terms, final exams, but it is all in the span of three weeks on top of the rest of life. In writing this post, this is literally the first time I have done anything creative since the beginning of the school year. In conclusion:
In this madness, I have learned a wonderful technique of forgetting the Word. At the end of the day, after writing three papers and getting off work at 10pm, the last thing I want to do is read my Bible. It not only falls to the bottom of my to-do list, but I become violent towards it. Whenever the Holy Spirit pours over me through conviction, I get angry and annoyed at that task. Why can I not live my life to my ways? Why do I need to do this? Why do I need to do anything? Tiredness begat apathy begat anger. What was originally just reading a chapter of God’s Word has turned into me ending my nights in anger. In my time of distress, I did not want to hear from God.
But in this mess that we call life, God works mighty wonders. In one of my Bible classes, we have slowly been going over 2 Timothy. These assignments which caused me stress and more work than I wanted were sowing seeds in their wake. They were preparing me for a greater understanding of the very thing I was struggling with. When I was first saved, my youth pastor was seemingly obsessed with that very same book. When starting discipleship with me, we started in 2 Timothy 2 and he made me read it over and over and over. No matter how many times I read that book, it always seemed like a jumbled mess of ideas. The writer seems to be going from point to point without a coherent idea and I, a young 14 year old, was lost in it. My youth pastor pursued a goal and made me memorize the second verse of that chapter.
"The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also."
It’s a verse I have known for almost 6 years of Christianity now and I do not think I fully understand what these “things” were. Oh, I knew the answer when my youth pastor asked me: “The Gospel!” Dingdingding! That’s it. Nailed it. But like a kid who grew up in Sunday school class, simply saying Jesus would get me the acclaim but not the true goal. It is not until about two weeks ago that I began to understand what the writer is talking about when he refers to the “things.”
The Apostle Paul, the writer of 2 Timothy, is writing to the young pastor of Ephesus, Timothy, while imprisoned in Rome. Unlike Paul’s first imprisonment, when he wrote a majority of his other letters in peace, this one is violent and disturbing. Paul is in a literal hole in the ground under a building. Scholars believe they have found the exact cell that he was imprisoned in during the writing of 2 Timothy and it is literally a dungeon of black rock and a single window in the roof where he was dropped in. Not only are these horrible living conditions, but we find from the letter (2 Tim 4:6) that Paul is close to death. Paul is writing this seemingly incoherent letter knowing that he is going to die in the coming months in a hole in the ground.
So Paul writes this letter to Timothy, a person close enough to him that he calls him his “son,” even though there is no biological connection between them. In this letter he gives him a set of commands. The entire letter is essentially a list of do’s and don'ts in ministry, but in the last part of the letter, possibly Paul’s final words he would ever write down, he requests this of Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:13.
When you come bring the cloak which I left at Troas with Carpus, and the books, especially the parchments."
Paul, at his death, wants his parchments. What are his parchments? Most scholars tend to believe he is referring to his Old Testament Scriptures. Since the Bible was not printed in handy-dandy pocket Bibles like nowadays, they would keep their Scriptures on large parchments and would most likely not take it with them when traveling far distances. Paul, in his final days, death in full-view of his face, a pillow of black rock beneath his head, wants to read his Bible until he sees Jesus. I don’t even want to read my Bible after a six-hour work shift.
I do not think Paul was drastically different from you and I. He was not crazy “spiritual” or more blessed than you or I, but I do think there was something different about him.
He gave in.
Paul quit fighting God so that he could be content with the things of this world. He instead, let Jesus wreck his life to the point of being imprisoned, tortured, and eventually killed, all the while on his third mission trip around Europe and the Middle East. God does not want to force you under a list of things to do on top of the worldly tasks, but He does want you to give in to His Love. He wants you to drown in His grace and mercy until you realize that nothing in this world matters without Him. He wants you to let love take you under.