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By Jon Shonebarger

His long and arduous journey was coming to an abrupt end. His final hours of life were spent in contemplation, reflection and introspection. The road had been very long and difficult, but through it all, there was the realization that he had been personally blessed. He bore witness to some of the greatest miracles and mysteries that God would reveal to a man. His life had been full. He knew he had fought a good fight. He had now finished his course. He had kept the faith. There were no regrets. (2 Timothy 4:6-7).

He was a chosen vessel of Jesus Christ, an apostle born out of due season. The former Saul of Tarsus, now the renowned Apostle Paul, was living out his life in the infamous Mamertine dungeon in Rome. For two years, he endured the cold of winter, the heat of summer, and a lack of sanitation in rat-infested conditions. Now he was facing beheading as an enemy of Rome, for preaching the gospel of Christ.

Submitted photo
Jon Shonebarger

In his second written letter to his son in the ministry, Timothy, Paul assured him that he was now ready to be offered, and the time of his departure was at hand. It is paramount to observe that Paul had complete peace. This was the precise peace that he spoken of when addressing the church at Philippi. (Philippians 4:7). A peace that passed all understanding. Jesus was the Lord of his life and his fate was completely in His control. All was calm in the heart of the beloved apostle. His conscience was clear.

This peace was sustaining him through the lengthy wait of execution; the reflection of the ministry he performed over a lifetime and the relationships he had built. Paul even recalled that there was a period of time when no man stood with him; all men had forsaken him. Yes, even a great servant of God, like Paul, battled unpopularity, opposition, persecution and loneliness. But through it all, he was unwavering in his faith, a soldier of the cross, and enduring hardness for Jesus Christ to the very end.

When our life’s work has ended, what will be our reflection? Joy? Satisfaction? Peace of mind? Unfortunately, some people will have regret and with it, heaviness of heart. Consider that the Apostle Paul, prior to his conversion to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, was responsible for the death of numerous Christians. He persecuted the followers of Jesus and had them put to death. A first-century terrorist! But he found redemption for his soul on the road to Damascus when he met the resurrected Christ. He had been redeemed. The sins of the past were forgiven and forgotten by a merciful Lord, who granted him a second chance.

None of us live perfect lives. We can look back over a lifetime of missteps, mistakes and misgivings. However, for the forgiven child of God, they can testify that while they were not perfect, they were pardoned because of their faith in the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary’s cross. Therein lies the peace a soul longs for when facing death.

The blessed assurance that Jesus is our soul’s possession and we have a heavenly home awaiting us on that golden shore. Until that journey into the presence of God in eternity, we must finish our journey with good works, for His glory. Let us finish the race well. Let us fight the good fight of faith!

Have a great week and remember, God loves you!

You can contact Jon at jtshonebarger@gmail.com.