The Deathbed Perspective, Part 3: Keeping the Faith

the Fight

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.               – 2 Timothy 4:7 (NIV)

Today we look at the final phrase of Paul’s deathbed words to the young pastor Timothy: I HAVE KEPT THE FAITH. faith

What does it mean “to keep the faith”?

When I hear the word “keeper,” I think of a zookeeper, someone who’s charged with guarding and caring for the animals. I also think of God Almighty, who is my keeper. He protects me, guards me, helps me, watches over me, and preserves me (Psalm 121).

Another definition of “keeper” is “someone or something you want to hang on to, keep, not throw away or lose” (my definition). I knew my husband was a keeper the night I met him.

No matter the meaning, though, it takes work—time and effort—to be a keeper, to consistently guard, properly care for, hang on to something or someone for a lifetime.

Now let’s look at the word “faith.” According to the Bible, “faith means being sure of the things we hope for and knowing that something is real even if we do not see it” (Hebrews 11:1 NCV). “Faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses” (Amplified).

Faith, to a Christian, is not just believing that God exists, but believing God is everything His Word says He is. It’s believing the promises we read in His Word and taking them personally. It’s believing God without a doubt—or in spite of it—when the world around us believes only in tangible things.

Now put those two words together: “keep” plus “faith.” Keep the faith. How, exactly, do we keep the faith?

By clinging to it in the storms, the silence, and the successes of life.

Let’s look at those times:

First, keep the faith through the storm. The Gospels record the times Jesus calmed the storm—and His disciples in the process.

But He doesn’t always calm your storms, does He? What do you do then? Lose your faith? Shake your fist in Heaven’s face? Stop believing He cares for you or that He even exists?

God knows there are times you must go through the storm—to grow, to learn, to become the person He’s molding you into. Like the words of the song, “sometimes He calms the storm, and sometimes He calms me.” Faith is believing, during the deep, dark times when the storms are raging all around, that He’ll never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5), that He’s with you always (Matthew 28:20), even if you don’t sense His presence. Faith is not feelings.

Second, keep the faith in the silence—God’s silence, that is. When your prayers go unanswered, when you feel alone and abandoned. Believe that God will answer in His time, His way, and always for the best. God’s silence doesn’t mean He’s not with you. Keep a journal of your prayers and when and how God answers. You’ll be amazed when you look back and see He was there all the time.

And finally, keep the faith in success—when things are going your way. We tend to forget God then, don’t we? We spit up a quick “thank you” and then enjoy our success as if it were all our doing.

Fight the good fight, finish the race, and keep the faith, Pilgrim, for “a crown of righteousness” (2 Timothy 4:8) with your name awaits you at the finish line.

Dear God, help me to guard, protect, and preserve my faith. Help me to both keep and be a keeper of the faith. Amen.

Remember Zephaniah 3:16–17 –Do not fear . . . let not your hands grow weak. The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives great victory. He will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing as on the day of a festival.

Extra tea: Read and meditate on 2 Timothy 4:6–8; Psalm 121; Hebrews 11

 

Mothers-Day-Pictures-1

May you be the keepers of the faith for your children and grandchildren. 

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