“When I fear my faith will fail, Christ will hold me fast. / When the tempter would prevail, He will hold me fast. / I could never keep my hold through life’s fearful path, / For my love is often cold, He will hold me fast.”- He Will Hold Me Fast, Selah lyrics
“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, ‘He is my refuge and fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”- Psalm 91:1-2 (NIV)
For the first eighteen months of my life, my parents lived in an apartment at 65th and Maplewood in Chicago. However, this photo of me with my cousin Pat was most likely taken near her home on South Winchester. For most of my childhood, Pat, along with her mother Marion and stepfather William Gabriel, lived above my maternal grandmother Mary in a classic Chicago two-flat. About 1.2 miles east of my parents. The CTA bus line on Marquette Road (aka 67th Street) provided convenient service. Pat recalls attending a picnic for my birthday (July 3rd), since it was a holiday.
Certainly, my family and relatives believed and lived by this guiding principle – Christ will hold me fast. At the age of nine, I asked my parents about piano lessons. The following summer, Grandma Mary moved her piano to our house so I could begin lessons. And when Grandma observed how well I did, she gifted the piano to me.
In her latest book, Good Boundaries and Goodbyes, Lysa TerKeurst tells of a classroom behavior system that put dread in her little first or second grade heart. And wrongly defined her as a person. On a bulletin board to the right of the chalkboard, the teacher placed the names of all the students. Below each name were three colored strips of paper – green, yellow, and red.
When a child violated a classroom rule, the teacher directed the offender to place the yellow strip on top. A second infraction earned a red card – and a trip to the principal. Sounds a lot like a system in vogue at the time, Lee Canter’s Assertive Discipline. External compliance without requisite internal change.
As a result, Lysa felt that others must see her as a good person in order for her to accept herself. And exhausting, but seemingly inescapable task. But, Lysa cautions, here’s the tragic reality of such an unhealthy mindset. Undue concern with gaining the approval of others possibly gives us a divided heart toward God. Therefore, the apostle Paul exhorts in Galatians 1:10 (NIV):
“Am I trying to win the approval of human beings or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I could not be a servant of Christ.”
However, Lysa wryly notes, we know this – until we forget. And that’s especially true with people whose opinions affect us. Because others might think poorly of us when we:
- disappoint them
- espouse a different opinion
- fail to act in accordance with their expectations
- draw boundaries that offend them
Christ will hold me fast. Consequently, stand your ground when people challenge your faith with statements that fail to portray you accurately as a child of God. Counter any negative label place on you with the truth of God’s Word. With endurance and patience, live a life worthy of the Lord, pleasing Him and bearing fruit.
Finally, in Philippians 1:9-10 (NIV), Paul addresses some key components to love:
“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.”
May your faith life witness to all that Christ will hold me fast.