God uses experiences to teach use, to nudge us, to mold us for future challenges, even at times to shake us awake and get us back on the right path. Sometimes these experiences are sudden and happen within a few seconds while others may stretch over the course of days, months, or years. When I look back on my life a few experiences certainly stick out that now, as I reflect on them, can see God working through those experiences to better equip me, improve me or shake me back awake.
In II Timothy 3 we see Paul writing to Timothy about his experiences. Paul had experiences that young Timothy needed. Because Paul had fought the good fight, he could share invaluable wisdom. Because Paul had finished the race and had kept the faith, he could relate many experiences about perseverance and faithfulness.
Experience lifts us out of the blinding fog of our own problems into the sunshine where we can distinguish the terrain ahead. Experience is a powerful teacher, but it often takes us out of our comfort zone and calls us to a new level of challenging living that will change us forever. Paul’s experiences propelled Timothy into the thrill of the race and the uncertainties of the fight. But Paul could not run the race for Timothy; he had to do that himself. So, too, each of us has a race to run.