To do for yourself the best that you have it in you to do – to grit your teeth and clench your fists in order to survive the world at its harshest and worst – is, by that very act, to be unable to let something be done for you and in you that is more wonderful still. The trouble with steeling yourself against the harshness of reality is that the same steel that secures your life against being destroyed secures your life against being opened up and transformed by the holy power that life itself comes from.Listening to Your Life: Daily Meditations with Frederick Buechner, January 15th
What if the good fight Paul tells Timothy to fight in 1 Timothy 6:12 is the fight to keep his heart open? When Paul tells him to take hold of eternal life (v 13), isn’t he urging Timothy to trust Jesus in a deeper way? We can’t take hold of eternal life on our own.
What if the good fight, the race, and keeping the faith Paul writes about in 2 Timothy 4:7 is the fight to learn a way of being that doesn’t close us off to transformation, surrender, joy, relationships, and love? Keeping the faith has as much to do with learning to love God, ourselves, and others, as it does with learning to be loved by God, ourselves, and others.
The Fight For Love
Over and over in Paul’s journey we see him surrendering his thoughts, his ideas, his religion, and his fight against the people of The Way. As Paul opens his heart, as he surrenders, he is transformed. God uses Paul’s zeal, his education, his unique and wonderfully made personality to be an apostle to the Gentiles. Paul still fights – but it’s no longer a fight against. It is a fight for. A fight for joy. A fight for tender hearts. A fight for love.
And the only way we will ever remain open and surrender our tendencies to “steel ourselves against the harshness of reality,” is to know the One who invites us to come and learn the unforced rhythms of grace. To keep company with him and learn to live freely and lightly.