Summary: Learning how to become strong for the off-road times of life.

September 21 & 22, 2002

2 Timothy 4: 9-22

“When the Car Pool Dies”

Mildred and Helen always rode in the front seat. Linda and Diane and Susie were always in the back seat and Jackie rode backwards or sideways in the fold out seat of my station wagon. That is because she was the only one who didn’t get sick riding backwards. For nearly three years these six ladies and I spent three hours a day together. We were inseparable, except by two seat backs. You see these ladies were my car pool. Helen, Mildred, Linda and Susie worked for the State of Indiana and Jackie, Diane and I worked for Blue Cross and Blue Shield. We became great friends, We knew everything that was happening to each others children and grandchildren. When one was sick, we all sent a card. We talked about the problems of the little town we all lived in, Rushville. We watched the season’s change, we stopped every week to buy eggs at a farmer friend of Jackie’s. On Friday’s our first stop before we headed for home was for sundaes and ice cream cones at the little dairy bar on State Road 44. That car pool had a great run. When I left the car pool to go to school and pastor the little church at Lancaster, Diane bought the station wagon and drove the car pool until she got a job in Rushville, then Jackie took over and drove for many years. I have a lot of fond memories of those many trips.

Now, twenty some years later it is sad to realize what the intervening years has wrought to the members of my car pool. Helen died from a heart attack. Mildred is dead from cancer. Diane was killed in a tragic car accident. Linda passed away in her sleep. I am not sure where Susie is and Jackie retired from Blue Cross and Blue Shield. They were there when April was born, they rejoiced with me when they found out that Gayle was pregnant with Jay. Helen counseled to buy our first house on 11th street. Mildred gave great motherly advice on how to make Gayle feel attractive when she was in maternity pants.

I think I understand a little bit of what Paul was experiencing as he gazed back over the years and dear friends who have left him alone and doubtless there were many other losses that contributed to the lonely last words he pens to Timothy. Demas had departed to Thessalonica, Crescens is in Galatia, Titus has gone to Dalmatia. Tychicus has been sent to Ephesus. Erastus stayed in Corinth and Trophimus is sick in Miletus. It had been a good run for Paul’s car pool, but “what do you do when the car pool dies?” What do you do when dear friends and old friends are gone, departed or turn away from the relationship? What do you do when you are cold and want a coat, bored and you want some books, lonely and you want Timothy to bring Mark?

This, to me is the most poignant section of all the scriptures. This man whom so many owe so much, is lonely, cold, and depressed. This man has been through imprisonment, persecution, stoning; has given up family, home and ease and yet must furtively ask, “Please come before winter!”

It is questionable whether Paul ever saw Timothy or Mark, the books or coat, for he was soon, after these last words, led away to be beheaded. Remember when Jesus asked, “What profit is it to a man to gain the world and lose his soul?” This dear man Paul has apparently, lost the world and gained his soul. What Paul is dealing with here as he closes the book on his life and ministry is disappointment. His conditions are a disappointment, many of his friends are a disappointment and those who oppose him are a disappointment. Sound familiar? We all know disappointment. However, God’s word can give us some wonderful encouragement as we struggle to deal with disappointment in our lives. Haggai is a very helpful book from the Old Testament, Paul’s bible, that can help us to understand and deal with disappointment. You will, I’m sure, recall briefly the circumstances that called forth this little book. After returning from exile in Babylon, the Jews commenced rebuilding the temple, then ceased the work not long thereafter, largely because of opposition from the Samaritans. Sixteen years later God raised up Haggai to call the people back to the task at hand. Upon his prodding, they began the work in September of 520 B.C. Barely a month had passed and the initial enthusiasm had waned once again. This time they were overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the project and by the memories of how great Solomon’s temple had been. Haggai now speaks to the willing but discouraged workers. Let’s look first at the causes for their disappointment and in so doing we will discover something about our own personal struggles.

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