“We’re all leaving one day: by death, dismissal or other departure.”
I remind the staff team at the church where I am lead pastor of that truth passed down to me. We’re all leaving our ministry post at some point. Death may take us. We may be dismissed. We may resign for other reasons. Regardless, 100% of us are leaving the staff team at some point.
The expression is a reminder to ensure what we accomplish makes eternal significance and passes the faith along.
In a larger sense, all Christians can share the same idea. We’re not getting out life alive. Death will come for us. The issue is not our death, but did we accomplish something of eternal significance? Did we pass the faith along?
The Apostle Paul knew how his life turned out and as he was thinking of his death, he remarked in 2 Timothy 4:6-8:
6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.2 Timothy 4:6-8
New International Version
It’s easy to see passages like this one and forget the context. As the Apostle Paul is writing his second letter to his protégé, Timothy, Paul thinks his death by execution is impending.
And the ending of his life created an interesting response in the Apostle: urgency for his death. We would expect fear, anxiety, or even sadness. But Paul seems to be excited about it.
There’s a sense of completion to his life being expressed. His race was run and run well!
Timothy witnessed firsthand the sacrifices of Paul. He knew Paul had poured his life out for the Lord as an act of worship (verse 6). The effort by the seasoned Apostle was marked by his faithfulness (verse 7). And Paul knew the Lord rewards his faithful servants (verse 8).
As Paul writes this letter, he’s composing it in Greek. The word in verse 4 he uses for “departure” paints many pictures. One of them is “to hoist anchor and set sail”.
What a beautiful expression for the death of a disciple of Jesus: we’re hoisting our anchors and setting sail for a far better shore: Heaven.
It’s important for us to see that it’s not just Paul’s escape he’s commenting on. He’s also reflective on a life poured out as an act of worship for Jesus. Paul held nothing back. He “left it all on the field”.
How will we greet the day we hoist anchor and set sail for our home in Heaven?
Will we be scared? Regretful? Peaceful? Excited?
Will we be able to echo the words of Paul? Did we live a life fully devoted to Jesus? Did we fight hard for the faith? Did we plunder Hell to populate Heaven? Did we bring glory to our master, Jesus?
We’re all leaving one day by death…barring the Lord’s return before our death, 0% of us are getting out of this thing alive.
So, when you hoist anchor and set sail, will you be able to say the same as Paul:
“I am already being poured out like a drink offering…I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day…”