Come Before Winter
Behold, now is the accepted
How many friends do you have? I mean, how many friends do you have that will stand with you to the utmost, and to the end? Who will keep on loving you and never let you down no matter what happens? We sing "What A Friend We Have In Jesus".
Other than Jesus, who seeks to be the friend of every man, the apostle Paul had two such friends. One was Luke, the "beloved physician". Luke had stuck with him when the last one had forsaken him. The other was Timothy, whom Paul called "My own son in the faith". (I Tim 1:2)
The great apostle had finally come just about to the end. He was in jail in Rome, and would probably be executed. Even if he should be spared, His frail and tired body would not last much longer. He writes two letters to his friend Timothy. They are kind and gentle and loving letters. Above all, Paul wants to see him. He writes, "Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me." (II Tim 4:9)
It is cold in that dreary jail. He remembers an old coat he had left in Troas. He asks Timothy to pick it up on the way and bring it to him. He asks Timothy to bring him some books he had left there, also. (II Tim 4:13) He comes to the end of the letter and he adds, "Come before winter." (II Tim 4:21)
Paul wasn't content merely to ask Timothy to come as soon as he could--- he added, "before winter". Why before winter? When winter comes, navigation closed in the Mediterranean.Timothy might have forgotten that the time would come when it would be impossible to travel. If he didn't come before winter, it would be too late.
There is an old saying that opportunity knocks only once. That is not true; opportunity knocks many times. It is true, however, that opportunity has a way of knocking for the last time. "Come before winter", Paul said to Timothy. It was before winter, or never.
We also need that reminder, "before winter". I conduct many funerals, and I find it easier to speak words of comfort when loving friends have sent flowers. But sometimes I look at those flowers and wish they has been sent "before winter".
A doctor tells of a man who was under bondage to liquor. One night this man was in a hotel room; his craving came upon him, and he reached for the phone to call a bellboy. Suddenly he seemed to hear a voice. The voice said, "This is your hour. Yield to it now and it will destroy you forever, Conquer it now and you will be it's master forever." Moments such as this come to all of us. These are decision times, and if we pass them by, they are gone forever. We need to "Come before winter."
Most fathers plan to be a friend to their children. But fathers need to work. There is business, and golf, and dinner meetings, and the need to sleep late on Sunday mornings. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could put our children in a time capsule and keep them there until we have time for them? But children have a way of growing up, and time gets away. If we love our children, it has to be "before winter".
Maybe there is ill- feeling between you and somebody else. It might be all his fault, it might be all yours, or it might even be neither one's fault. We mean to settle it, but we just keep putting it off. Eventually it will have gone too far; it will be too late. We need to settle it "before winter". Whittier was right when he wrote:
"For of all the sad words of tongue or of pen,
Winter comes. Opportunity knocks for the last time.
We remember how our Lord walked along the shores of Galilee and said to certain men, "Come, follow me." There must have been an urgency in His appeal, because we read that they "left all, rose up, and followed Him." (Luke 5:28) The appeal of our Lord is "Come before winter." Come now, before it is too late.
Winter is a time when it gets cold. Instead of growing, the leaves on the trees turn brown and die. Winter also comes to the human heart. There are many decisions we must make "before winter" if we are ever to make them at all.
Has winter come to your heart? Is your love for God and your interest in Christ dead? Do you still say your prayers at night as you once did? Does the singing of an old hymn give you the same thrill it used to, before you hardened your heart to God? Can you speak profanity without being shocked at yourself, even using the name of the Lord in vain? The prophet Jeremiah said "The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved." (Jer 8:20) Winter had come.
"Come before winter", Paul urged Timothy. If he waited, navigation would be closed; no boats would be running, and his chance would be gone. Yes, opportunity knocks many times, but eventually it knocks for the last time. Sooner or later, winter comes to each one of us. Opportunity knocks it's last knock, navigation closes, our chance is gone. It will be winter. It will be too late. Shouldn't we "Come before winter"?