What must it have been like for the Apostle Paul, languishing in prison, awaiting martyrdom, to write these words to his young charge, Timothy, in 2 Tim. 4:9-12?
If this picture I took in Rome last March is where Paul was at the time, it makes what follows all the more painful as we try to identify. That’s my bride, Nancy, in the picture of the maritime prison in Rome.
9 Do your best to come to me soon. 10 For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. 11 Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry. 12 Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus.
No wonder Paul longed for Timothy to make his way to him soon. Count the losses with me. He suffered the defection of Demas, once known for his faithful service (Col. 4:14), to worldly pursuits. That had to have been a crushing blow. Two other key players, Crescens and Titus, presumably for good reasons, split for different destinations. Tychicus, another faithful confidant and servant, Paul had to send to Ephesus on the Lord’s business.
Bottom line? Luke alone is with me. Slim pickens. There’s no one left in the bullpen. There are no reinforcements to call up to the front lines. No wonder Paul wanted Timothy to come quickly and bring Mark with him! God means ministry to be a partnership of many. Just read Colossians 4 and Romans 16 and you will see what I mean. Paul dearly felt the sting of loss of fellow servants at this crucial season in his life.
I feel a little of that this week. I suspect most of us do at Orlando Grace. It relates to the transition of three of our seminary grads at OGC moving on to new places of service. My journal reads like this lately:
JW has gone to San Francisco, JR to Albuquerque, GB to Londonberry. All for good reasons, I might add. There’s not a worldliness defector among them. To the man, they have accepted calls to ministries around the country. Thanks be to God. We had a sweet time of prayer with two out of the three at our staff meeting this Monday morning, pictured here.
So the question I ask now is this. Who will come to us soon? What new servants-in-training at RTS, Orlando, might God send us in which we might invest, come to love, and send out with tears when the Lord directs them on their way?
Another round of students reports in August for Greek boot camp. Pray with me that the Lord speaks to some, a few, even one (beyond EF already with us) that they may come to us before winter (see 2 Tim. 4:21) and help fill the gap left by such wonderful men and their families.