For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
2 Timothy 4:6–8
What a word to come from a dungeon death cell. Lacking all that ordinary men consider necessary to make life worthwhile, Paul the prisoner of Jesus Christ was able to rejoice in the Lord as he looked back over all the way he had come. And he looked forward to the glad hour when he would lay his armor down at the Redeemer’s feet and receive from His hand the crown of righteousness, that blessed award which is reserved for all who love His appearing. The apostle’s wish, expressed some years before (Acts 20:24), that he might finish his course with joy, had been gloriously fulfilled. He had fought in the good conflict for truth and righteousness. He had kept the faith and now he anticipated his home-call with joyful confidence. To him Christ was all and Christ was enough!
Ask those who now their palm of victory wave,
Conquerors through Him, who died the lost to save,
If now they murmur at their former lot,
Or wish they had escaped one mournful spot?
No, you would hear such grateful pilgrim tell,
That vale of grief was blessing’s richest well:
The pools of trouble, filled with heavenly rain,
Turned into myrtles every thorn of pain.
—J. G. Deck
H. A. Ironside, The Continual Burnt Offering: Daily Meditations on the Word of God (Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1994), 329.