Timothy's Head Start to Salvation
"Half-breed, half-breed!" Timothy once again was subjected to the teasing of the other children. At times, he was the subject of teasing because he was half and half. Half Greek and half Jewish. He was strong enough that he could have fought the boys and made them stop. He had done it before. But his mother and grandmother had impressed on him the need to act more intelligently than the children who were bothering him that day.
So he walked with his head up high, tucked the scroll under his arm that had been loaned to him by the rabbi. Head high - act proud - smile - and keep moving. It was hard having a Greek father and a Jewish mother. Timothy didn't seem to be totally accepted by either the Greeks or the Jews.
His Greek father worked hard and fed the family, but he never seemed to have time for his son, especially since his son had taken such an interest in his mothers religion. They had married young, and had started a family. But they had never talked about religion until his wife's mother had moved in with them. His mother's faith came to life when Grandmother had moved in. She was always talking about the scriptures.
Timothy's father didn't have strong faith and felt uncomfortable whenever the topic of religion came up. In addition, his father worked with his hands and felt that he didn't have time to poke his nose into scrolls and spend his time reading. So, the more Timothy learned - the further he seemed to grow away from his father.
Mother and Grandmother, however always made time to talk to Timothy and teach him. He learned as much at home as he did when he went to school at the temple to study under the rabbi.
Timothy walked into the courtyard, where his mother was taking warm flat bread out of the rounded clay oven that sat outside the house. His mother watched her son walking quickly and ignoring the teasing. She walked towards the stone fence that stood between their yard and the dusty road. Several of the boys ran off thinking Timothy's mother, like most mothers would be mad about the teasing. To those boys who still stood at the fence, she offered pieces of the warm bread. She called Timothy over and gave him a piece also. "It's better to break bread together and live peacefully than to cast stones at one another," she said.
The boys nodded and ran off, with their mouths still full of bread. The talk of casting stones made Timothy stay silent. He had witnessed something shortly before the boys started teasing him that disturbed him greatly. But he wasn't ready to talk about it quite yet. Timothy sat on the stoop and took off his sandals to leave them outside the house. He emptied part of the water in the clay jar by the door over his feet to wash off the dust before entering the house. No words had been exchanged yet since he had entered the courtyard other than his mother's comments to the boys who had followed him home.
"You could fight back said his mother, and I know you have in the past," she said. Her name was Eunice. "Young David fought Goliath, but there was no other way to escape fighting that time, and God helped him. But, remember when David was older? He could have killed King Saul - but sneaked into Saul's tent while Saul slept and stuck his spear into the ground next to Saul's head. He acted bravely and honorably, but he didn't have to fight that time."
"You also could h+++++++++++++++++++++ave run away, but I'm glad you didn't. Daniel didn't run away when Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, wanted to put him into the Lion's Den. Daniel knew the Lord would protect him."
Timothy's mother and his Grandmother, Lois, were always reminding him of the stories from the scriptures. They started taking him to the temple when he was just a little child. He learned the history of his people. From Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and the eating of the fruit that caused them to be cast out of paradise.
He had learned about Noah, the promise of God to Abraham to make Israel a great nation, and so much more. These, and a hundred other beautiful stories, she told him from the sacred Books. Then, too, she taught him that the Passover was kept because the angel of God passed over the Hebrews, and slew the Egyptians; and that the lamb was offered every day in the temple as a sacrifice for sin. She also had told him of the great things God had done for their nation, and that He had promised to send them a Savior.
Timothy had learned so much from his mother and grandmother. But now he was growing and learning more on his own. Something had happened today that he wanted to speak of to his mother. When she paused long enough to interrupt her without being rude - he began to talk about a man he had met at the synagogue. The man's name was Paul.
Paul and another Christian named Barnabas had been traveling from city to city, sharing the teachings of Jesus. Paul had been a Jewish leader named Saul who had persecuted Christians until the Lord came to him. Paul had even been blinded for a time on the road to Damascus so he could later SEE that the Christians talking about the message of Christ were right, and he had been wrong. Today, Paul was talking about the savior.
While the rabbis told of a messiah who one day would come, Paul told stories about Jesus who had already been born on earth and who had walked among the people and who had died so everyone could be saved from sin. Paul said that Christians loved everyone, Greeks and Jews alike.
When he listened to Paul, Timothy felt like he belonged. He wasn't a half and half. He was a whole person who was loved by God. "My mind would never have been opened to his teachings if it weren't for you and Grandmother, Timothy told his mother." Then he continued to tell her what had happened.
The leaders at the Synagogue were angry because people listened to Paul and began to ask questions about the Christian religion. At Lystra, Paul healed a man who had been crippled from birth. When this happened, some of the godless people of Lystra began to claim that Paul and Barnabus were gods. Even though Paul told them they were not gods and tried to tell them about the one true God and his son Jesus, the leaders became angry and told the people that Paul and his friend Barnabas were trouble makers and that they should be chased out of the city.
Timothy didn't see who threw the first stone, but a rock was hurled through the air that hit Paul on his ankle, drawing blood. The site of blood and the laughter of the Jewish leaders encouraged the people to stone Paul. Men at the temple threw large rocks and stones at Paul. When he had been hit several times, he fell to the ground. The leaders had him dragged to the edge of the city.
Timothy had been able to talk several times with Paul before all this had happened. When the stoning started, he yelled at the men to stop. The rabbi shoved the scroll under Timothy's arm to get rid of him. The other boys used his outburst as a reason to again tease him for living in a mixed family.
Now Timothy told his mother what he had learned about the Christians. He told her of his determination to find some of the Christian leaders in town and learn more about what Paul was trying to teach him. And that's exactly what he did! For the next three years, Timothy learned everything he could about becoming a Christian.
You wouldn't think after treatment like this that Paul would come back to Lystra again. But, he did! He wanted to go wherever God wanted him to go. But he did ? three years later. This time, he once again met a young man named Timothy. Timothy was well respected by the Christians at Lystra and Iconium.
It didn't take many of their long talks and times of studying together until Paul realized how dedicated Timothy was to God. He came to love Timothy like a father loves a son. Paul believed that though Timothy was young, he could still do God's work. So Paul asked Timothy to join him. Timothy had been taught to love God as a child and knew the scriptures well.
Timothy eagerly accepted Paul's invitation. As an adult, he made many journeys with Paul and other Disciples of Christ and helped teach many people about the love of god. He was present when Paul chased demons out of a young girl. He helped start churches. He wrote many letters to church leaders that are still in the New Testament today. He lived for Christ. He lived for Jesus and died for Jesus. And - at the end of his life, he was not afraid to face death because of a letter he had received from Paul many years earlier.
Paul wrote to Timothy to advise him about how to lead the new churches. He loved Timothy dearly and told him about his own feelings as he faced death for Jesus' sake. He looked back on his life as if it had been a race. "I am nearly finished with the course," he told Timothy. Now I am looking forward to the prize that will be given to me and to everyone who truly loves our Lord Jesus.
You can never be too young to do God's work.
Dr. Mike Lockett is an educator, storyteller and children's author from Normal, IL. Dr. Lockett has given more than 4000 programs across the USA and as far away as eastern Asia. Contact Mike by writing to Mike@mikelockett.com in order to book him for a storytelling program or young authors program or to inquire about purchasing his books and CDs. More stories and information about storytelling can be found at www.mikelockett.com