Come Before Winter

by Impact Church

“…Come before winter…” 2Timothy 4:21

I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happens to them all. Ecclesiastes 9:11

The two sided coin of the world’s religions are essentially dogma and deeds. Teachers, preachers, rabbis and clerics beat as it were a drum the systematic indoctrination of belief systems and the human behaviors flowing from them.

Yet, in Christianity, a sublime element is added. For tho it be not explicit in the doctrine, or in the lyrics of songs or titles of sermons, it’s always in the Spirit of what’s done, said or thought.

Time matters.

Opportunities matter.

The brief clause, “Come before winter”, is highly pregnant with urgency, love, emotion, premonition, compassion, time, and opportunity. Paul is imprisoned in Rome now, his life hanging in the balance by the deranged Emperor, Nero. From a dank prison cell, he writes his second letter to Timothy, his dear protégé who is pastoring hundreds of miles away in Ephesus.

Incarcerated, but with poignancy, persuasion and conviction, Paul bares his soul and pens his farewells and final instructions.

“I’ve fought a good fight, Timothy, I’ve finished my course. Be strong, Pastor! Preach the Word! You’ll face many obstacles in declaring it, but that’s to be expected.. I can only say it’ll be worth any suffering you experience to hear Him say, “Enter in, good and faithful servant”! I pray for you always, and I’m well aware of your tears. And by the way, I’d really love to see you! Could you get away and sail to Rome? I’d really love to see you… And if so, come before winter…” (This version yet to be named or edited)

And as softly as fog rolls into lowland meadows after a warm evening rain, so are we slowly aware of the element of time and opportunity in Paul’s plea, “Come before winter”. For some opportunities come once, and the window of time in which they’re offered is tight.

Time and opportunities matter.

Is it possible Paul simply wants Timothy to sail soon, knowing the Mediterranean Sea is treacherous after October?

Or is he aware of his own life, perceiving that his days are numbered, anticipating Nero’s tool of choice- the chop block?

Or could Paul simply desire friendship, having had so many of his associates simply desert him, pursuing their own passions?

Whatever the reason Paul pens, “Come before winter”, it’s eerily apparent that time is of essence. And whether Timothy ever dropped his Ephesian obligations and sailed quickly to Rome to see him, we have no definitive answer.

We can only say that Paul was martyred by Nero soon afterward. And if he did come before winter, it’s likely he witnessed Paul’s death. And if he came later, to hear of the Apostle’s passing would be a bitter pill to swallow.

What we take away is this- that as certain as our days are numbered, so are opportunities given us to fill. And as we should number our days, so should we be cognizant of the time-frame in which opportunities are presented. Simply stated, some things cannot be done tomorrow.

Salvation cannot come tomorrow…
Faith is a “now” quality…
Forgiving others, or making peace with a brother can’t be on layaway..
Love can’t be postponed or put on standby…

Ultimately, those adept at applying life to opportunity, will have a treasure-filled life, regardless the number of their days…