Bible Reading: 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18
I had a close friend in Indonesia who was a spiritual father to me. Yan de Fretes was one of the godliest men I had ever met. The last time I was with him was in 1986, and he was taking me to the airport. Suddenly, he pulled over to the side of the road and stopped. He pointed to a dark, silver lined cloud. I had recently had surgery for cancer, and Yan said to me that I would be healed but that the Lord would shortly be taking him home. I was shocked!
A few weeks later Yan called me in the UK, from Indonesia. It was a Friday night, and one of the most special half-hours of my life. He was perfectly well, but rang to encourage me to keep ministering, to talk about heaven and to say goodbye. The next morning he conducted a funeral service of a close friend, and at the end of the service he had a heart attack and was gone. Within two hours of his death, friends in Indonesia called me to tell me that the Heavenly Father had taken Yan home. How did Yan know? He certainly lived close to Jesus.
As I look at these final words of the apostle Paul about himself there are certain things that stand out:
Firstly, there was a sense of completion. He had finished the work that Jesus had given him to do. He had fought the good fight and finished the race.
Secondly, he had remained faithful. Through every storm, struggle and attack he had remained faithful to Jesus. At times he was burdened beyond measure, so that he despaired even of life [2 Corinthians 1:8] but he remained faithful.
Thirdly, he had a sense that this was God’s time. “The time of my death is near” [2 Timothy 4:8 NLT]. He had been in this situation, as a prisoner in Rome before, but he had known that was not God’s time to take him home. Now he knows it is time!
Fourthly, he had a sense of expectancy. He knew that the Lord would bring him safely to His Heavenly Kingdom [verse 18]. He was excited at the prize he was about to receive – a crown of righteousness.
Finally, all these things point to one thing in particular – his total assurance of being at the Centre of God’s will!
“Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine,
Oh what a foretaste of glory divine;
Heir salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, Washed in His blood.
This is my story, This is my song,
Praising my Saviour all the day long”
Will you surrender everything to Jesus today, and then serve Him faithfully, so that like Yan de Fretes, and the apostle Paul, you will have this expectation, and assurance and be totally without embarrassment when you meet Jesus?