If We Only Believed
“Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful.”
Hebrews 10:23 (NRSV)
The Holy Spirit led me to pay particularly close attention to this scripture passage from Hebrews. Hebrews is an incredibly rich book and this verse is no different.
It says “Let us hold fast…” “Hold fast” is a colloquialism commonly used among sailors. It may not be a modern phrase that we commonly use, so let me break it down like fraction. When hold fast is used among sailors on a ship at sea, it often coincides with a storm that is on the horizon or has already hit. “Hold fast” would indicate they needed to prepare themselves. The sailors have specific equipment and protocols to make sure that they and the ship are prepared to withstand the wind and the waves. If we were to use “hold fast” in our everyday conversation, we would be telling someone to tighten up, stand firm, dig their heels in, or even brace themselves.
And so, the writer of Hebrews is telling their audience to stand firm, dig in, and tighten up. They go on to write, “to the confession of our hope…” What is the confession of hope that this writer was referring to? Well, they are writing to an early Christian audience. Even more, the subject of the three verses prior to verse 23 is Jesus. We are left with the conclusion as the hymnologist wrote, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” Quite simply, my friends, our hope is in the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Christ Jesus! That may seem like a “duh!” statement but it is what the text is saying. And, besides, it’s always worth repeating.
Nevertheless, the Hebrew audience and we as believers today are being told to stand firm on the hope that is in Christ Jesus. This is the hope of healing, deliverance, freedom, wisdom, renewal, salvation, and abundant life. This hope pertains to his promises and authority. This hope is the assurance of his power. But the writer adds two final words to end this clause, “without wavering…” To waver is to be unsteady. If we’re talking about ships and sailors, it means to be swayed to and fro, back and forth. Referring back to that classic hymn, the hymnologist wrote, “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand…” It is easy to waver if our foundation is not built upon Jesus. That is why to say, “without wavering” is almost redundant when you have already said, “Hold fast…” I would argue, however, that this only emphasizes the point being made. The writer saying the equivalent of stand firm at the beginning and without being swayed at the end is to make sure that there is no room for confusion or compromise. It is no doubt what we are to do!
But there is more. . .
You see, if this scripture ended on a period it would be a complete thought and one that was well stated. There is, however, a comma after the word “wavering.” The scripture goes on to say, “for he who has promised is faithful.” The Holy Spirit revealed to me two questions that this last part of the scripture doesn’t ask, but produces, nevertheless.
Who do you believe God to be?
What do you believe God is capable of?
These questions were revealed to me with all that we are experiencing as a community country, and world. More often than not, who we believe God to be and what we believe God can do isn’t exposed during the good times. It isn’t exposed when there are roses and lilies dancing in the field. It isn’t exposed when the money is flowing just right. It isn’t exposed when everything appears to be all good and all our relationship shops are flourishing. No! Who we believe God to be and what we believe God to be capable of is shown when there is an overcast, so to speak. When you’re not sitting on a stack. When the storms of life seem to be raging fast and heavy. It is exposed during the difficulties, missteps, and trials. It is exposed when we experience what 16th century Spanish mystic St. John of the Cross referred to as the “Dark night of the soul.”
If we’re not careful we can allow the coronavirus pandemic, and, truthfully, the situations in our lives that existed before we knew what a “Rona” was, to shape who we believe God to be and what we believe “He” is capable of. If we don’t believe that our Heavenly Father, Mother, Parent is faithful as the scripture says, and if we don’t believe that “He” is capable of fulfilling every promise, then we might as well pack it up and throw in the towel! But, if we do believe that our God is faithful and that “He” can come through on every promise, then we must hold fast without wavering during this season and all of the difficult seasons of our lives!
To believe that God is faithful and that “He” can do all things is a prerequisite for holding fast and not wavering. Too often we can be guilty of merely playing church and not really believing that we serve a faithful God who is capable of far beyond what we can even imagine.
In the Weathers household we recently purchased a kid’s gate for Baby Stef. The reason we purchased this gate is because if we didn’t, he would literally run all over the house. For some reason he has grown an affinity for the kitchen, which is no place for babies. This has caused us to repurpose the gate from something he can play inside of to a barrier that prevents him from entering the kitchen. Just a few days, I was on the other side of the gate cleaning up the table after a meal. Seeing me from afar he began to run towards me. He suddenly stopped, and after taking a moment to observe why, I saw that he looked at this gate that he couldn’t climb over, crawl under or get through. For a moment he was deterred and delayed, but then something incredible took place. He looked at the barrier that was in his way, then he looked up at me. After looking up at me, he began to walk over to me again and stretched out his arms for me to pick him.
You see, this 9-month-old has much to teach or remind us when it comes to our heavenly parent, God Almighty. He saw what appeared to be an insurmountable barrier, obstacle, and situation. But, even when faced with this, he knew who his father was! And, at this stage in his development he believes there’s nothing I can’t do!
We need to be like Baby Stef, understanding that our heavenly parent is faithful and there is nothing “He” cannot do. That is true in the midst of covid-19. That’s true when we’re laid off. That’s true when we’re sick. That’s true when we’re attacked. That’s true in every difficulty, trial, or storm of life.