The Death Of A Relationship
2 Timothy 4:9-22
“At my first defense no one appeared in my support; instead they all deserted me…”vs. 16
Opposite Ends of the Spectrum
High school sweethearts Les and Helen Brown, who were born on the same day on Dec. 31, 1918, died at age 94, within one day of each other. “My mom often said she didn’t want to see my father die, and he didn’t want to live without her,” Daniel, the couple’s youngest son, told the Long Beach Press-Telegram. Helen died on July 16, and Les died on July 17. The Southern California couple celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary in September. “It was a real love match, wasn’t it?” their oldest son, Les Jr., told the newspaper. “They were together every day for 75 years.” According to the sons, the pair met at Huntington Park High School and eloped on Sept. 19, 1937, at the age of 18 against their parents’ wishes. They thought a match between a wealthy man and a working-class woman would never work out. The couple moved to Long Beach in 1963. He was a photographer for the Navy. She sold real estate. They had seven grandchildren. The two, who were friends with many of their neighbors, were known to take road trips and worshipped at Kingdom Hall as Jehovah’s Witnesses. Eventually, Helen was diagnosed with stomach cancer, and Les suffered from Parkinson’s disease. “Like the Bible says, ‘They were as one,'” Bob Brobst told the Press-Telegram, who was a friend of the couple’s for a decade.
Britney Spears and Jason Alexander
Ditching the traditional white wedding gown for a belly-baring top, jeans and a baseball cap didn’t bring marital bliss for the pop-star bride, who wed a childhood friend on a whim after partying together in Sin City. What happens in Vegas really stays in Vegas: This January 2004 marriage lasted only 55 hours before it was annulled.
What makes or breaks a relationship? Why do some relationships last for a lifetime and some for maybe a few days or even a few hours?
Read Passage – 2 Timothy 4:9-22
9 Make every effort to come to me soon. 10 For Demas deserted me, since he loved the present age, and he went to Thessalonica. Crescens went to Galatia and Titus to Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is a great help to me in ministry. 12 Now I have sent Tychicus to Ephesus. 13 When you come, bring with you the cloak I left in Troas with Carpas and the scrolls, especially the parchments.14 Alexander the coppersmith did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him in keeping with his deeds. 15 You be on guard against him too, because he vehemently opposed our words. 16 At my first defense no one appeared in my support; instead they all deserted me—may they not be held accountable for it. 17 But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message would be fully proclaimed for all the Gentiles to hear. And so I was delivered from the lion’s mouth! 18 The Lord will deliver me from every evil deed and will bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever! Amen. 19 Greetings to Prisca and Aquila and the family of Onesiphorus. 20 Erastus stayed in Corinth. Trophimus I left ill in Miletus. 21 Make every effort to come before winter. Greetings to you from Eubulus, Pudens, Linus, Claudia, and all the brothers and sisters. 22 The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.
As we finish our study of 2 Timothy we get an insight to Paul that doesn’t come out too often. I think of Paul as this rough, tough, bulldog type of guy. Prior to him accepting Christ, he was a persecutor of the church. The bible even talks about him standing by and watching people being persecuted or killed and him giving his approval. He seemed to be determined, relentless, and I get the picture of him being a bull in a china shop. Things didn’t seem to phase him much.
An important part of Paul’s life is his relationships. In our passage today we see a different side of Paul; a more sensitive, caring, and tender side. The side where he cares about people and his relationships with them. He is sitting in jail awaiting execution and when you are confined and alone it gives you a lot of time to think. He says in verse 10:
“For Demas deserted me,,,and he went to Thessalonica.” vs. 10
“Alexander the coppersmith did me a great deal of harm.“ vs. 14
Paul has had some relationships that were difficult and at times he didn’t see eye to eye with others and they ended up parting ways. Splits in relationships are difficult. Notice the word he uses here; deserted. That is a strong word with lots of feeling and emotion behind it. You can tell this tough man feels hurt, probably a deep hurt, some disappointment and maybe even betrayed. Really we see a more vulnerable side of Paul.
I think this brings up something that we all deal with in life and very few times does it seem we get much coaching or training on it; endings. Can we be comfortable with endings? Some people seem to manage them with ease while others struggle with them and fight them. I read recently in the book Necessary Endings by Dr. Henry Cloud that ending can be unplanned or planned.
Planned endings: graduation, timed events like a conference, concert, a day, a year, etc.
Unplanned endings: death, a sudden break-up, an disaster that came upon suddenly like a earthquake, twister, etc.
There are some endings we want. Something is not going well and we just want that particular thing to time to end. Others we don’t want. We have to ask ourselves how we deal with endings and are we comfortable with them? We even need to ask ourselves if we are prepared to deal with them and have we received any training on how to handle them?
To Manage Endings, Recognize…
So today I want to take a clue from Paul from our passage and look at our lives and how we manage endings. I believe that if we understand endings, and can learn to manage them, we can help ourselves to move forward in life and really bring more glory to God in how we handle our lives. In order to manage endings, we must recognize a few things.
1. Accept the Cycles of Life
The first thing to recognize and accept is that there are cycles of life. This is something that God created when he created our world. Think about it from a verse we can refer to in Psalm 74:16-17:
“You established the cycle of day and night; you put the moon and sun in place. You set up all the boundaries of the earth; you created the cycle of summer and winter.” Ps. 74:16-17
God established cycles. He separated the light and the darkness and created day an d night. That is a cycle. Each time the sun goes down a day has ended and night has begun. When the sun comes up the night has ended and day has begun. There are certain things that we do in day and others we do in night. On a greater scale God created the seasons; summer, winter, spring, and fall. Each season is unique and brings about certain things.
Ex. For example let’s consider the cycle of a plant
Winter – Prepare the soil, gather equipment, etc.
Spring – Clear the ground, plant, water, fertilize, etc.
Summer – Water, fertilize, direct the resources, manage the crop, grow, etc.
Fall – Harvest, care for the field so you don’t ruin it for the next year, etc.
God established the seasons and each season brings an end to one thing and begins another. Solomon wrote about this in Ecc. 3 in one of the more famous passages of Scripture:
“For everything there is an appointed time, and an appropriate time for every activity on earth…” Ecclesiastes 3:1
Our lives have built in cycles; birth, death, laughing, crying, working relaxing, etc.
Ex. Prince George being born to Prince William and Kate. A new season.
The couple I started with today, the season of death.
It’s important not only to recognize tht there are seasons, but accept them as well.
Ex. I am in my 50’s. I won’t be able to do what I did in my 20’s or 30’s. Some things change, my hair, my proportion, my eyesight, etc. I can accept it or fight it but it is still going to happen.
2. Grieve the Loss
The second thing to recognize about managing the endings in our life is that we can grieve the loss. Once you have recognized the cycle, the reality sets in that we experience loss. Continuing with Solomon’s words from Ecc. 3:4:
“… a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…” Ecc. 3:4
Grieving is a process that can be uncomfortable and let’s face it, it hurts but it is part of the cycle of endings in our life. Many times when we experience loss, because we have not been taught how to deal with loss, we are not sure what is appropriate for grieving. Part of my job as a pastor is to help people through their time of grieving. One thing that seems to really help people in those times is giving them permission to grieve and to express it. Some cry uncontrollably, some laugh and think its inappropriate, some become very quiet and some very loud. Grieving takes on different traits and expressions and it’s okay to let those out and give yourself permission to grieve. In John 16 Jesus is talking about his upcoming torture and death with the disciples and he tells them in verse 20:
“Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.” John 16:20
Grieving is part of the ending process. It’s an appropriate thing to do and a necessary thing to do. Grieving is experienced in more than just losing people. It can be about losing a job, a relationship, a material object that is important to you, any number of things and in all areas of your life.
Ex. My eyesight. I recently had to get glasses for the first time in my life. I was saddened that my eyes were no longer able to do what they had done my whole life. I was proud of my eyesight but now part of it is gone. I have to let that go and accept the fact that I need to wear glasses especially when I read.
3. Let Go So New Opportunities Can Come
There is good news that comes to us in the third area of recognition about managing our endings, it is that we let go so new opportunities can come. In John 15 Jesus is giving an parable about the vine and the branches and in verse 2 he says:
“He takes away every branch that does not bear fruit in me. He prunes every branch that bears fruit so that it will bear more fruit.” John 15:2
Jesus is touching on a subject here that can be difficult to understand but is extremely important when it comes to dealing with the endings in our life. He talk about pruning here. Pruning is cutting away part of a plant so that new growth and better growth takes place. Think about why we cut away part of a fruit plant. Really it comes down to 3 reasons; 1. The plant produces too much for it to handle, 2. Some of the growth is no good (diseased, sick, measly), and 3. Some of it is dead and taking up valuable space for the healthy part of the plant. An expert gardener know what a good plant looks like and what is taking resources away from the plant producing good fruit so he cuts away all the things that don’t allow it to have the best crop possible. When he does that, he gets better fruit.
Ex. A peach tree.
There is another aspect of this as well; it’s that some things need to be cut away because they just weigh us down. Hebrews 12:1:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, we must get rid of every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and run with endurance the race set out for us…” Hebrew 12:1
Managing endings mean there are some things that might still be good but they are weighing us down so you cut them out so that you have new opportunities.
Ex. The tools in my garage. I had an opportunity to get more so a weeded out the old tools, the ones I don’t use, but they are still good tools, and sold them off so I had room for new tools, ones I needed and would be using.
New opportunities come when we let go of things that are no longer necessary or a necessity.
The Forever Relationship
As you begin to consider and manage the endings in your life, there is one more things to remember. Pastor Tim Keller states in a sermon that we were created in relationship with God, Father, son and Holy Spirit. So, there is one thing that will never end. Know what it is? Romans 8:37-39:
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom. 8:37-39
We have one relationship, one promise of something that will never end in our life: God and his presence. His love for you and I is so great, so vast, and different than any other thing in our life. It is something we can count on, depend on, and know without a shadow of a doubt that it will never end because he promises that to us. To finish Pastor Tim Keller’s thought: we were created in relationship with God, and we are the only religion that that believes our destiny is to be in relationship with God. There is a relationship that lasts forever.