Sunday, July 25, 2010

Holding On


I'm just holding on
I'm just holding on
I'm just holding on
Holding on and
I won't let go my faith, go my faith

Last week I spoke about Pressing On in your walk of faith. Today, I want to talk about Holding On to your faith.

Have you ever tried to hold only something but no matter how hard you try, it slips from your grasp? I remember I was getting out of my car one afternoon and I had this habit of swinging the door shut as I exited from the car. On this particular afternoon, I stepped onto the curb and lost my balance. As I began to fall backwards, I instinctively reached for the car with my right hand and then realized the door was swinging shut. I tried to grab the handle on the swinging door but it swung quickly past my hand. As my right hand grabbed the door frame, the door closed on my thumb.

It happened so quickly but for me, the moment seemed to take forever. Initially, I felt very little pain. The keys which were in my left hand dropped to the ground. As I tried to reach down and pick them up, I was instantly reminded with a sharp, piercing pain that my thumb was stuck in the door. I looked across the roof of the car at my wife who at that moment, was exiting the car. When I told her my hand was stuck in the car, her first response was thinking that I was playing a prank; until she recognized the pained expression on my face.

Sometimes holding on can be painful.

In the movie Titanic, people were holding on to anything to keep from going into the ocean; they held on because their life depended on it. I’ve seen a squirrel climb out onto a branch that suddenly dropped from its weight while the squirrel desperately holding on, gathered itself in order to get to a sturdier branch. How does an insect hold on to the thinnest stem of a plant while the wind swirls without being blown away?

Insect holding on
An insect holding on

A parent hurriedly walks their child into school for the first day of kindergarten class. As they enter the building, the small hand of the child reaches up, holding on tightly to the hand that has always provided security, comfort and love.

When I hear the phrase letting go, I think about freedom, being at ease or having an attitude that lacks tension. On the other hand, when I hear the phrase holding on, I think about something precarious or dangerous; losing control or suffering injury. It can imply that one has a sense of fatigue (I'm barely holding on). It can also mean that one has a grip that they are unwilling to relinquish. If a pit bull were holding on to my arm, I would find it difficult to discourage it from letting go. In a sense then, letting go and holding on are opposite sides of the same coin.

In Philippians, Paul uses the Greek word epecho (ep-ekh’-o) to express the word holding. This word means, to hold upon, (by implication) to retain.

…holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may have cause to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.1

Whereas in 1 Timothy, he uses the word echo (ekh’-o), which is used in certain tenses only to mean to hold directly or remotely; such as having possession, the action of doing something by enjoyment, fear or necessity.

“…holding on to faith and a good conscience.”2

So even though faith is not something physically tangible, the bible says that one has the ability to hold on to it, once you possess it. I simply mean that you have to have faith in order to hold on to it. Is it necessary to hold on to my faith? If so, why is it necessary?

Man holding on to steel girder, Photo by Lewis W. Hine/Getty Images, Jan 01, 1931
Man holding on to steel girder

Sometimes the real danger is in letting go, not holding on.

Holding on to my faith takes a commitment from me to trust God with my life. This doesn’t occur overnight for any believer. If it did, then Paul would not have said,

"Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus."3

So I find myself being extended by faith in Christ, reaching towards Him, not with my arms; I am reaching with the arms of my faith. I haven’t fully grasped this salvation plan by Almighty God, but what I do understand, I find myself holding on to that understanding. It has become my lifeline; an unbending belief that I am secured for all eternity by the power of God in Christ Jesus.

Although God has demonstrated His existence, there are those who would deny Him. He specializes in the impossible, unimaginable and unbelievable things and asks us to simply believe and trust Him. Holding on to this belief and trust is easy when we are showered with the blessings of God; when He says,Yesto our prayers.

What happens when God says,NoorNot nowto us? Will I hold on to my faith in Him or will I let go?

This is when I find myself challenged; when God does nothing in the way I expect. This is when holding on is most difficult because in that moment, I feel like giving up; I am battered by doubts. I’ve discovered that I’m not the champion I thought myself to be. I am faced with the dilemma of holding on to my faith or letting go, trusting and believing in the supremacy of God or accepting the notion that He does not exist. If I let go, I may never discover and experience the marvelous blessing He has in store for me.

I’ve also discovered that I can lose my balance, I can stumble, I can even fall but Christ Jesus is holding on to my hand. I may find my faith slipping away and I myself am drowning but Christ will not let go. There is a wonderful example of this in Matthew,

"And Peter answered Him and said,Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.And He said,Come!And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out saying,Lord, save me!And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him…"4

When the winds of change swirl around your life, don’t let go! That’s the time for you to hold on. It may appear that your life is about to perish, everything around you is crumbling; hold on to Jesus. You may find that everything you valued is slipping away; hold on to Jesus. Life may seem hopeless and thoughts of what’s the point creep inside your mind; just hold on to Jesus.

Father God, I have no answers to the problems in my life; I am at a loss for words. All I can manage to say is, “Lord, save me!” My faith may be little but I’m holding on to trust my life in Your hands; no matter what that means or what the cost. You have become my life Jesus and although I may not fully understand or appreciate all You’ve done and are doing on my behalf, I’m still holding on. My life is in your hands dear Lord and I’m thankful for the knowledge of that truth that secures me. I bless your name Lord Jesus and I thank you. Amen.

Footnotes:
  1. Philippians 2:16, NASB
  2. 1 Timothy 1:19, NIV
  3. Philippians 3:12, NASB
  4. Matthew 14:28-31, NASB
References:
  1. Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, By James B. Strong, S.T.D, LL.D., Riverside Book and Bible House, Iowa Falls, Iowa 50126
  2. The NIV Study Bible, Edited by Kenneth Barker, Donald Burdick, John Stek, Walter Wessel and Ronald Youngblood, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530, USA
  3. The Ryrie Study Bible (New American Standard Version), Edited by Charles C. Ryrie, Moody Publishers, Chicago, Illinois, ISBN 0-8024-8920-6

6 comments:

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

This is marvelous! I had not looked at the expression "hold on" in quite that light before.

BTW, I would like to let you know that my Blest Atheist blog went down. I replaced it with 100th Lamb (www.emahlou.blogspot.com). I explain why there.

Dean Spencer said...

MTJ -

Great post! For the believer this is a marvelous truth. Whenever everything else is failing, where else can we go? Peter said something like that.

My heart goes out to those who aren't saved. What do they have to hold onto? They reach, they grab, but it's like falling, as in your example, but instead of the door they ultimately have nothing to grab onto and hit the ground hard.

People hold on to whatever they can, and it's sad. Because if it's not Jesus, it won't do a bit of good.

Thanks for the insight! God bless!

Lloyd said...

This is such an inspiring post for me to meditate on MTJ. Thank you so much for sharing this message. I always think of how Peter's faith was so strong when he got out of the boat that he began to walk on the water towards Jesus. Isn't it amazing how we can go through life walking on water as long as we keep Jesus as our focus, but as soon as we get distracted by the world, we begin to sink in our sins. I am praying your prayer also "Lord save me!". God's blessing to you. Lloyd

MTJ said...

Elizabeth: Thank you for sharing so much of what Christ means in your life. I quickly found how much I was missing your posts each morning. You bless and encourage the global body of Christ.

Dean: I believe you're right when you say, "People hold on to whatever they can..." I see this effort as an act of desperation because as Jesus said on the cross, "...they do not know what they are doing."

Lloyd: That's the challenge and battle we face daily as Christians, "fixing our eyes on Jesus..." -- having the singleness of mind, spirit and purpose.

Faith Imagined said...

Very inspiring writing! I love your thoughts on holding on! Sometimes God brings us to a point in which the only thing left to hold on to is Him. Fortunately He is always holding on to us!

MTJ said...

Alisa: Isn't is both comforting and reassuring to know that He's always holding on to us?