I am giving you these instructions, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies made earlier about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, having faith and a good conscience. By rejecting conscience, certain persons have suffered shipwreck in the faith...” (1 Timothy 1:18 & 19, NRSV).
A shipwreck in the faith…been there and have a closet full of t-shirts to prove it. These are not my proud moments; and, unfortunately, they could be a segment from my 15 minutes of fame. These are the memorable few because they were equivalent to a spiritual shipwreck…not a car accident, but a monumental shipwreck.
I can see myself in these verses. What Paul is warning Timothy against, is a road that I have walked. There is a pattern to it, and it begins with the intrinsic. What were you made for?
Paul is telling Timothy all of this so that he will stay on course. Paul would not have lasted a moment without commitment to his course. He was beaten, literally shipwrecked, stoned, and the list goes on. He knew his passion, his purpose, that for which he was made. Timothy knows this, too. Do you?
I have noticed that we might not know where we will end up in this Christian life but we know that God made us for something. We see it in our passions.
I heard a talk, once, by Bill Hybels. He said that everyone has a ministry (yes, you do). Ask yourself what really makes you passionate. When the topic is brought up, you come alive. Maybe it is even just something that you find yourself praying for more than others. You have one, just as Timothy was meant to spread the gospel. Don’t think of what you can do, think of what God wants you to do, passionately.
When you find this passion, this anointed purpose, sometimes you have to fight for it.
This phrase, “fight the good fight”, is serious business. Awkwardly, it could be said, “wage the good warfare”. Warfare is not choice. Warfare is being aware that there is a very real enemy who is out to destroy one thing, your purpose.
When we lose the will to fight, faith becomes a battlefield. I was reading some extra material when I went through Romans a few weeks ago. Based on the scripture, you can substitute the word faith, for trust.
There is a difference, to me, in saying, “I have faith” (ambiguous at times for me), rather than, “I trust you God”. I trust that God is who He says He is; I trust that He has a purpose for me; and, I trust that He has the power to make that happen because I cannot fight this enemy on my own.
If I no longer have trust, I no longer see that my purpose, in Christ, is significant to the kingdom. When we stop fighting we concede that we do not trust Him to accomplish His purpose. We no longer believe that He is powerful enough to work through us to His end.
Throughout this progression, there is that nagging…you know what I am talking about. All of us have felt that horrible sense that my prayers are not heard, that my actions are futile, and that my heart is heavy. This is the impending shipwreck.
Our conscience is what gives us self-awareness. Some could call it a function of the Spirit in our lives. It is what tells us to do this, and avoid that. When we cross it, these twinges are small, but they grow. They become endless nights, staring at the ceiling. Days feel like a brick sits on our hearts as it sluggishly pumps against this unwelcome weight.
I know you understand. We are careening to the coastline. We no longer have a course or the heart to find it. The closer we get to land, the less we trust that God is going to keep us from complete destruction. The battle seems to be over, as the open waters have been offered up to the enemy.
It started with that twinge. By rejecting our conscience, we end up shipwrecked. In retrospect, the shipwreck is never worth the distraction.
Our conscience is something that deserves a fight, because there is nothing that can offer freedom but this. That is why Paul bothers to plead with Timothy to stay on course. He is simply a young man with a purpose.
We are simply women with a purpose. Stay on track, trust God, and listen moment-to-moment to what you know is right and wrong. Be careful.
Do you have a passion, a purpose for ministry?
Are you fighting for it or against it?
Do you trust in God to accomplish His purpose in you?
How is your conscience at the end of the day?
Father, thank you for using us all for exactly your purpose. Instill in us a passion for your kingdom work, and give us the strength to fight. Let us trust completely in you, as you have proven yourself faithful and steadfast. Examine us and clear our conscience for your purpose.