Making it to the end of 2022 feels like crossing a finish line. Even though my race of life isn’t over, I couldn’t help but think of how crossing from December into January puts me another year closer to the award that awaits when I do finish this strenuous race called life. I selected today’s scripture and declaration to inspire us to persevere in 2023 and to set our minds to run our races well, knowing what awaits us.
Paul writes to Timothy of his assurance that the righteous Judge will award him with a crown. But listen to what else Paul is sure of. That crown will not only be awarded to him, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. When Paul wrote to Timothy of his own crown, he made a point of letting us know a crown awaits ALL of us longing to see Jesus.
This is my last episode of 2022, and to be perfectly candid, I’m glad to leave this year behind! It’s been tough. I confess that I’ve been downright despondent at times. Thankfully, I’m too close to Jesus to stay in the pit of despair for long. While it’s true that I long for his appearing, I’m grateful to know without a shadow of doubt that I don’t have to wait until I see Jesus face to face to enjoy the benefits of his presence. God is with us now, even in seasons of doubt and despondency. He is our Emmanuel. Didn’t we just celebrate the fact that heaven came to earth on Christmas? The angels announced to the shepherds that they would find the promised messiah wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger in Bethlehem. I’ve often wondered if those shepherds doubted what they’d seen and heard after so many years of silence. Did they grow despondent over the three decades that passed between that manger scene and the start of Jesus’s public ministry? Obviously, the baby had to grow up before he could become their king, but 30 years is a long time to wait for the fulfilment of a promise. And then that promise didn’t seem to be fulfilled when Jesus hung dying on a cross. I talked in the previous two episodes about how Jesus never sat on the throne in Jerusalem to rule and to reign as King of the Jews. But Jesus’s said His kingdom was not of this world. His crown on earth was made of thorns. Maybe your earthly crown is a bit thorny too. But for those of us who long for Jesus’s appearing, a better crown awaits us.
You are about to cross the finish line of 2022. A new year awaits you. And no matter what lies ahead in 2023, you can trust that your Emmanuel has promised not only to be with you through it all, but also to provide you with a great cloud of witnesses to cheer you on. You are already a winner, so hold your head up high.
I hope my podcast encourages you. I also share encouragement through my blog, which you’ll find at Mid-Week Miracle Archives – Bible Teacher | Author | Shawna Marie Bryant
You may subscribe to receive my blog posts via email by visiting my website at Author of Longing to Belong | Shawna Marie Bryant
This week’s scripture: 2 Timothy 4:7-8