I want you to imagine yourself as a sailor. It's 1872 and you're one of the sailors on a ship bound for some unknown place. It's been smooth sailing for a while, but the dark clouds are looming ahead. You hope they pass by but it turns out, you aren't that lucky. The storm rolls right onto your path. At first, it was just raining. The rain is coming down like it would drown you from above. Then the thunder clapped and shook the sea. The lighting cracked through the sky. The waves rise up to monstrous heights and crash over the sides of your ship. Your only hope is to ride out the storm. So you lash your safety rope to the main mast and hold fast. You pray God would let you see one more day.
While this might be imaginary for you but it was incredibly real for many sailors throughout history. In fact, they would sometimes get the phrase “hold fast” tattooed across their fingers. It was a reminder to stay vigilant in gripping the rigging of the ship. Without grasping the ropes firmly be swept overboard by wind and waves.
If you aren't holding on, you're falling overboard.
I think the last year has made many of us feel like we were thrown overboard. Whether it's through loss of job, quarantine, isolation, or even just a disruption in routine. Many of us are feeling like there isn't a lot we can hold fast to, especially if we're considering God.
Whether it's just this year or other times in your life, you can count on a time when you will feel like God is far away. That somehow you got thrown overboard and he isn't giving you a lifeboat. While not all of your relationship with God should be dependent on feelings, I totally get not feeling God.
But let me ask you something: are you holding fast?
Are you doing the things that will keep you anchored in storms? Are you reading your Bible? Are you praying regularly? Are you meeting in small groups? Are you giving? Are you helping others? Are you doing the Jesus 101 things that he asks us to do?
In John 15, Jesus says "remain in me as I remain in you." The key to that text is that Jesus is in us but we have to be in him too. You can't blame God for not being in your life when you've made no effort to have him in your life. You have to hold fast because if you aren't holding on, you're falling overboard.