The Deathbed Perspective: Part 1 Fight the Good Fight

Read and reflect on 2 Timothy 4:6–8.

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

Call me crazy, but I tend to make important life decisions from what I call “the deathbed perspective.” I imagine myself on my deathbed, looking back on my life. At the end of my earthly sojourn, would I regret this decision or rejoice I chose to go that route?

Of course, we know when faced with a decision, we can always ask God for wisdom, and He’ll oblige (James 1:5). Perhaps this is God’s way of giving me that wisdom, because from the deathbed perspective, my priorities are clear, and I know the way I should take. So far, I’ve never regretted a decision made from the deathbed perspective.

In his second letter to the young pastor Timothy, the apostle Paul also had a deathbed perspective—and it truly was his deathbed. He was in his last days on earth—imprisoned in a cold dungeon, chained like a common criminal, alone, as he awaited his martyrdom.

Here he penned the words I told my husband I wanted on my tombstone: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).

But those aren’t just words to die by—they’re words to live by.

This week we’re going to look at the first part of that verse: I have fought the good fight.

This tells me the Christian life is a battleground not a playground. The life of faith is a fight because faith doesn’t come easy and it doesn’t grow easily.

As believers we are in a war with God’s infernal enemy, and we do battle daily in three arenas of warfare: the world, the flesh, and the devil (yes, he does exist).

The world is the spirit of the age, the anti-Christ attitude, the realm of the God’s enemy. Paul accurately described the spirit of the age in his letter to Timothy (read 2 Timothy 3:1–5).

The second arena is the flesh—our human, or carnal, nature, prone to sin, which is constantly at war with our spiritual nature (John 3:3; Romans 7 & 8; 1 Corinthians 2:6–14). Just look at the temptations to sin you face daily. This war will rage until our spirits are freed from our earthly bodies. 

The third arena is the devil. When you receive Jesus as your Savior, you immediately switch sides in a war that goes back to Lucifer’s rebellion in heaven (Isaiah 14:12–15; Ezekiel 28:11–19; Luke 10:18). The enemy has been prowling around ever since, seeking the destruction of believers (1 Peter 5:8).

But we are not left without weapons.

First, put on your armor (Ephesians 6:10–18). After all, why would the Word advise us to put on our armor if we weren’t to do battle?

Second, pray. A praying Christian terrifies the enemy.

Third, know God’s Word. It is your sword (Ephesians 6:17). Learn to use it and use it often and well.

Fourth, resist. The Word tells us to “resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:9).

Fifth, remember that “greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world”(1 John 4:4).

Finally, remember the war is already won. It was won when the Son of God died in your place on a Roman cross then burst out of a sealed tomb three days later. Don’t believe me? Read Revelation.

I know, there are times you feel anything but a victor. You feel beaten, weak, small, forgotten, and alone.

But you’re not. Remember these verses:

When you feel beaten: You are more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37).

When you feel weak: His grace is all you need (2 Corinthians 12:9). Christ living in you gives you strength (Philippians 4:13).

When you feel small: You are loved by the God who created the universe (Psalm 36:5). You are the apple of His eye (Psalm 17:8). You are engraved on the palms of His hands (Isaiah 49:16). You are precious to Him (Isaiah 43:4).

When you feel forgotten and alone: He will never forget you (Isaiah 49:15). He will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). His Spirit lives in you (1 Corinthians 3:16).

Onward and upward, soldier. Keep fighting the good fight.

Remind me, Father God, I’m in this world not to frolic but to fight the good fight of faith. Help me to use my weapons often and well. Amen.

NOTE: Next week, we’ll look at the second part of that verse: “I have finished the race.”

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

Forging a New Normal

Arthritis pain in the lower back, or lumbar region.

It wasn’t what I wanted to hear.

After months of nearly constant lower back pain that increasingly worsened, trips to two doctors (my PCP and my orthopaedic doctor), X-rays, and a CT scan, I made an appointment with the spine surgeon who’d operated on my neck eight years ago. That surgery went well, and I was able to resume my normal life after recovery. I’d hoped the same would be true this time.

“I want to walk and hike again without pain,” I told the nurse who compiled my information. As well as sleep without the constant ache that invaded my slumber and woke me up through the night.

“I can’t promise you that,” she said.

Surgery wasn’t an option. Operating on the lower back, as opposed to operating on the neck, is a totally different ballgame.

There is no cure for my diagnosis: degenerative arthritis, also called osteoarthritis. Add to the mix scoliosis, a slight curving of the spine in same area as the arthritis. This, I was told, is probably why I have pain, stiffness, and a feeling of instability when I wake up or when I work at the kitchen counter. The back brace I bought helps some.

Instead of surgery, what the doctor prescribed was physical therapy, cortisone shots, and various medications. No quick fix.

No fix at all, as far as I was concerned. I’d rather pursue natural remedies when it comes to health issues. I wanted to avoid the injections. Research into the prescribed medicines revealed two of the three would interact with my blood pressure medicine.

What it boils down is a lifestyle change. Just what I want as I approach the seventh decade of life.

Of course I had my grumbling, complaining, pouting sessions. I’ve been grumbling and complaining for months. My poor little flock (I’m the lay pastor for a small church in Punxsutawney)—they graciously listened to me gripe every week. And DH—the word longsuffering was coined for this man.

What now?

Time to put on my big girl britches and deal with it. Learn to live with it. Without kvetching.

Forge a new normal. Alter my horizons, change my goals, adjust the pace at which I tackle my day. Shorten that to-do list and incorporate physical therapy, exercise, walking, stretches, rest, and meal planning. Educate myself through research.

In addition to pursuing my dream of writing. Sitting for long periods of time is a no-no, but unfortunately that’s par for the writer’s course. So I bought a Fitbit, which reminds me to get up and walk every hour.

It never ceases to amaze me how God meets us in our deepest valleys.

During my quiet time, I’ve been reading Draw the Circle: The 40-Day Prayer Challenge by Mark Batterson. Not following the day-by-day readings, but choosing the selections randomly.

As I wrestled with the diagnosis and the resulting life changes this past week, God led me to Day 4: “Don’t Pray Away.” Batterson related the story of a couple whose three-year-old son fell from a second-story window and was permanently paralyzed.

Here’s what John Tiller, the father, wrote: “It was time to accept his current condition and choose  to live life with disability.… Instead of getting discouraged or getting angry, I choose to look for what God can do.”

Photo by Chad Madden on Unsplash

“Sometimes,” wrote Batterson, “the purpose of prayer is to get out of circumstances, but more often than not, the purpose of prayer is to get us through them.”

There was nothing random about choosing this selection on that particular day, a day when I needed those words the most.

What a God!

Lord, please give me “the grace to sustain me, the strength to stand firm, and the willpower to keep on keeping on.”* It is only through Your grace and strength I can do this. Amen.

*From “Don’t Pray Away,” The 40-Day Prayer Challenge by Mark Batterson, p. 34.

Read and reflect on 2 Corinthians 12:7–10.

© 2019 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.