Today, we sang a song at church with these lyrics:
Jesus, lover of my soul
Jesus, I will never let You go
You’ve taken me from the miry clay,
Set my feet upon the Rock, and now I know
I love You; I need You
Though the world may fall I’ll never let You go
My Comfort, My closest Friend
I will worship You until the very end.
I love that song. Sometimes, I can sing it with my whole heart, unreservedly, because I really mean it. “I will never let You go.” “Though the world may fall, I’ll never let You go.”
Recently, I’ve been asking myself if I really mean that. It’s not something you can just decide one time. I think it’s a continual growth step. You surrender “everything” to God, and then He asks you to step closer and you have to choose to surrender again.
Yesterday and today, I’ve been reading 2 Timothy, Paul’s final epistle before his execution. Unlike his first imprisonment in Rome, where he had his own place and could have visitors and people to care for him, this second imprisonment was lonely, cold, and excruciating.
Not that Paul was a complainer. If you read 2 Timothy, you have to read closely to glimpse the setting. He writes:
- “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God” (1:8)
- “For this reason also I suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed” (1:12)
- “This you know, that all those in Asia have turned away from me” (1:15)
- “but when he (Onesiphorus) arrived in Rome, he sought me out very zealously and found me” (1:17)—Note how hard Onesiphorus had to look for Paul. No one really even knew where he was being kept!
- “For which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains” (2:9)
- “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand.” (4:6)
- “Be diligent to come to me quickly, for Demas has forsaken me . . . only Luke is with me. (4:9-11)
- “Bring the cloak that I left” (4:13)—-He must have been so cold!
- “At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me” (4:16)
Can you imagine? At his defense hearing, not one person stood up to defend Paul. Not one. After a life filled with ministry and sacrifice to others, no one came to his defense. He’s then cast into a prison in an unknown location where his friends have to struggle to find him.
Beth Moore writes in To Live is Christ,
Paul was held under conditions like those of a convicted killer. He was bound by heavy chains–the type that bruise and lacerate the skin. He was almost 60 years old and had taken enough beatings to make him quite arthritic. The lack of mobility greatly intensified any ailments or illnesses. He most likely was reduced to skin and bones. The cells where the worst prisoners were chained were usually filthy, wet, and rodent-infested dungeons. Paul was cold. He wanted his cloak and begged Timothy to do everything he could to come before winter.
And yet, despite all of this, Paul never questioned his call, never questioned his faith. He trusted God no matter what.
This year, I’ve felt very much like God is waiting on me. He’s giving me the chance to decide whether I want to know Him more, walk with Him more closely, and trust Him wholly with my future. Am I willing to take another step?
Honestly, it’s not as easy as you might think to say, “Yes, Lord. Totally. Send me, God.” Sometimes it’s scary. I think about what Paul endured, and I’m afraid. I listen to the testimonies of Christian authors and speakers and I’m scared to go through what they’ve lived through–like financial hardships, the death of loved ones–even their children, and physical harm to themselves.
And then there are the not-so-big hardships that still paralyze a people-pleaser like me, like hurtful criticisms and people oh-so-willing to share their opinions on how you’re messing up.
Sometimes, as cowardly as it is, I’m so afraid that I just want to say, “Not me, God. Don’t ask me.”
But, God is so gracious. I know He’s being patient with me and He’s been bringing verses and quotes across my path that remind me to trust Him and not fear.
Two of my favorites are:
Deuteronomy 31:8 : “The Lord is the One who will go before you . . . He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid or discouraged.”
Joshua 1:9: Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
I’m not saying that I sang the words, “I’ll never let You go” this morning without any fear of the future. While I was singing those lyrics, though, in my mind I was singing, “I’ll never let You go; thank You for never letting me go. Thank You that You’ll be with me even if my world may fall.”
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2011 Heather King