2 Timothy 4:1–8
Perhaps the most important race in the modern Olympics is the 100 meters sprint; certainly it gains the most attention. But the climax to the games in ancient times was the relay race, where teams of competitors combined their skills and energies as they raced in turn to the finish post. In the relay, the handover of the baton is the vital moment. With perfect timing the baton is passed, and the receiver takes hold of it with a firm grip. Dropping the baton means disaster and loss.
When Paul talked about “keeping the faith,” the baton imagery is helpful. The words he used here are similar to when he wrote about “laying on of hands” on people in recognition for ministry (1 Tim. 5:22), an act of solemnity and decisiveness. Paul grabbed faith and held on tight. Again, I turn to Eugene Peterson: “I’ve run hard right to the finish, believed all the way” (2 Tim. 4:7, The Message).
Some days I don’t exactly lose my faith; I just mislay it. I find myself in situations where tiredness, cynicism, or fear means that I stagger through a day, or a season, hoping to survive, rather than exercising faith in persistent prayer. I place myself in the position of not receiving because I’m not asking for anything. I drop the baton. Like Peter, I’m sifted and shaken, my faith the primary target in the spiritual war.
Perhaps that’s where you are right now. Instead of moving down the track, you’re parked on the side, wincing because of injury, sad because of failure. Get up. Take hold of the baton. Believing all the way means believing today.
Pray: Lord, help me to find faith where I have been faithless, and to hold on to and keep the faith today. Amen.