“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
2 Timothy 3:14-17
These past months as I have been adjusting to the life of a retired person I have had the opportunity to do some reflection on what the course my life and ministry will take. If the Lord spares me for another year, and is willing what do I want to accomplish in this next year? The one thing which I hope to have at the heart of all that this next year brings must be an increasing Christ-centredness in my life. What is of greatest importance is the development of a culture of biblical Christ-centredness in ministry and in life. The assumption must be that without a life that is centred upon Christ, there will be no usefulness in the life that I am called to live.
I am brought to this understanding because of two discoveries which I have made about my Grandfather and my Father. Years ago at the time of my Grandfather’s home going I was given a tiny Bible which he had carried with him all through his life. It is a complete Bible in miniature. It measures just over an inch tall and about a half inch thick. It can only be read with a magnifying glass that is included in its cover. I used this Bible at times in children’s stories at my Church. To my Grandfather it was the Bible he carried with him all through the Second World War. What it means to me is that it is a reminder of a crucial fact about my Grandfather. He was absolutely committed to living by the teaching of Scripture. The severe trial that he was facing in the war was no time to be without the word of life. This principle was one that in later life he would attempt to pass on to each member of his family. That tiny Bible symbolises for me that commitment.
When my Mother was cleaning out her apartment a number of years ago she found and passed on to me a suitcase full of my late Father’s possessions. My Father, who went to be with the Lord thirty one years ago, was a Baritone soloist. I can remember on numerous occasions how he would tell us that he was committed to only sing to the Glory of God. Amongst his possessions were numerous volumes of sacred songs and solos, many of which I can still hear him singing. What a rich treasure of memories I found there. There was also a set of journal entries made during a time of great trial in my Father’s life. He was severely injured in an airplane accident. I lived through those days. It is instructive to relive them however from my Father’s point of view. There is much to come to terms with there. One thing that I can state clearly however is that my Father faced those days of trial with a deep and abiding faith in Christ. I can remember him saying that if it were not for his faith in Christ he would not have been able to survive and make sense of his injuries. Here is the rest of the story however. Among my Father’s possessions was a small, leather bound, well worn (by that I mean almost completely worn out) New Testament. On the inside cover there is an inscription, from my Grandfather to my Father as a Christmas gift. My Father at the time was fifteen years old. My Mother tells me that my Father carried that little New Testament with him wherever he went.
Here is the lesson for me. I can understand what Paul is writing to Timothy about his upbringing. Timothy was brought up to centre his life on the Word of God. He had a Godly example who led him to faith in Christ. So too have I had a Godly example. I want to pay tribute to their witness in my life. It is of no use however to just remember their witness and to pay tribute to it, if I do not share in the faith of those that went before me. What is crucial is a life lived by faith in Christ. It is this faith that I want to proclaim for the rest of my life. It is what I hope and pray I will leave behind long after I have gone to be with the Lord. Nothing is more important than to find in Christ the ransom for sin that saves us.