"For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia." 2 Timothy 4:10
I remember one summer when I and a group of my friends made a pact that we would not go forward during the preaching invitations at camp and we would not make any decisions for God. We knew the camp wanted us make spiritual changes, and we were not going to have it. We wanted to keep doing the wrong things we were doing, and we did not want anything to stand in our way. It is funny that we thought we could fight against God this way as if we possessed any power to withstand the Holy Spirit’s conviction. We all took this pact seriously, and we reaffirmed this commitment prior to boarding the bus for Flagstaff.
We headed off, mischievous as ever, with a desire to intimidate the whole camp with our bravado and vigor. Our reputation quickly spread, and we intimidated the other churches at camp that week. We knew we would be involved in sports competition with the other churches, so it was important to send a message of strength right away. We wanted the other campers to know that we were not to be messed with, and we were more than pleased that this message was getting around the camp. I look back to how foolish this was as I know there were people praying for me to get right with God that week.
The messages that were preached that week seemed to be aimed directly at me, and I was under tremendous spiritual pressure. The Holy Spirit was convicting me and by Wednesday night, I forgot about the pact that I had made and went forward during the invitation and repented and confessed my sins to God. I felt a huge weight lifted off of me that night, and I felt peace I had not had before. I went back to my cabin that night and began to hear the chatter of my friends and the disappointment they held for me. We were in a small room so it was hard to escape my friends and they were not ones to let this go. I did my best to ignore the names they called me as I was on cloud nine from making things right with God. I had gone against the pact we had made, but I couldn’t care less at that time as I was right with the One who mattered most.
We came home after camp and I lost my best friend and close friends. My so-called friends did not return my calls and would not even sit with me at church. These were not casual acquaintances, but friends I had known since I was a little kid. I felt betrayed in many ways, but I hadn’t felt joy like that in a long time. I began to draw close to God and He more than took the place of my friends and He filled me like my friends never could. I have come to know that through the years, friends come and go, but there is a Friend who sticks closer than a brother. I have been forsaken by some in the faith who I thought would never turn me aside, but they have chosen to go their own path.
Paul was forsaken by Demas who rebelled and pursued after the things of this world. I am sure Paul was disappointed, but it did not halt him in his relationship with God. He pressed on and soon after he wrote this letter to Timothy, he went to met the One who had redeemed him on the road to Damascus. I am sure Paul remembered Demas no more, as he was with the One whom He followed after and the One he desired to see.
Are you discouraged today? Have you had some friends in the faith leave you and pursue after this world? Have you left a godly friend due to the pull of the world with whom you need to make things right? Maybe you have not made a pact with a group of friends, but have you made one in your heart against God? It is never too late to make things right with God, and you can be right with Him at this very moment. I encourage the discouraged that God is a friend who sticks closer than a brother, and I encourage you to press on when all other forsake you. He never will.
Stay in the fight!