10 But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience,
11 Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured… 2 Tim. 3:10-11
Unravel. That’s one word you would not to hear in connection with your life. There you are, your life all neat and tied down pat and, all of a sudden, it begins to unravel. I wouldn’t wish that for myself nor for anyone else.
But many lives have unravelled in this world. One of the lives that unravelled horribly fast was that of a man in the U.S. called Joe Paterno. The sequence of events that led to Joe’s life unravelling was started by a man called Jerry Sandusky. Jerry Sandusky preyed on young boys and sodomized them. But then, Joe and Jerry worked on the same team. Joe was – had been for decades – the much-celebrated coach of the powerful Penn State college football team and Jerry was Joe’s technical assistant. The story goes that Paterno & co. knew about Jerry’s evil deeds but they firmly put a lid on it, unwilling to divulge Jerry’s dark secrets and end up compromising the sports image their team held, over the fate of a few boys. But one day, in the natural course of such events, the pressure forced the lid to fly off, and all that was known (and not known) about Jerry’s rot became public news, including what Joe and and his other assistants knew. Sandusky was jailed, of course but, within a few months of the publicizing of the allegations, Joe Paterno, one of the greatest legends of the sporting world, died of a broken heart, leaving behind a legacy forever tainted and a name irreparably damaged.
There is nothing to rejoice over such news. In fact, this is news that should break the hearts of each one of us. It is extremely depressing news.
Not all lives will unravel in this world. But in heaven, every life that is not built upon the sure foundation of Jesus Christ and Him crucified, will unravel. That is exactly the thing to avoid.
One of the best lines in the scriptures is found in 2 Timothy 4:7. It was written by the Apostle Paul. It says:
“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith…”
This is a line that each one of us should desire to have written for our lives.
Notice, “I have finished my course”.
This is one man whose life will never unravel in this life, nor in the next. The reason is because he fought the good fight, he kept the faith. But pray, how did Paul keep the faith?
It was through the life he lived. His life was an open book. There were no folds where he hid things in his life. Nothing was hidden from view. He laid out his life for all to see, and among the people who would see Paul’s open life would be his young disciple, Timothy.
But Paul’s was also a victorious Christian life. That was what made the difference.
I wish I could speak to my family, without wincing, the Apostle Paul’s words to Timothy:
“10 But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, 11 persecutions, afflictions…”
Unravel. This is a word that is designed to send fear and terror down our spines. But it ought not to. There is a place of safety from the terror this word inspires. It is in the cross. Here we are free from such terrors. When we accept to deny ourselves by taking up our cross and following Christ, we are assured that here on earth we can walk in the greatest liberty of spirit. We have nothing to hide, for we have become more than victors over sin. And, when we get to heaven, we will stand tall in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ and before His holy angels.
I wish I could become more of an example to my wife, my children, and to those around me. I wish people would see more of Christ in me. That was what the Apostle Paul accomplished. That was what guaranteed that his life would never unravel. Paul denied himself and took up his cross in order that he might show forth in his body the only life that would not unravel, the life of Christ, Christ crucified.
[Below: Arusha is the most well-known of Tanzania’s towns. Little-known Singida is some 300km down south]