John 10:27-30 – My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one." (RSV)
Recently, I found myself in the position of trying to give some advice to a friend who was searching for some answers. He was and is going through some very difficult times in his life and is facing problems in many different areas. He explained to me how he often felt somewhat helpless to overcome the problems in his life. That is when I gave him what I thought to be pretty good advice. I told him, not in exact words, that he needed to get a tighter grip on God and to hold on to His strength and comfort.
At worship on Sunday my eyes were somewhat opened to the fact that my advice to him perhaps was not completely correct. The sermon on this particular morning was drawn from the verses above. I cannot remember all of the sermon, or even all of the main points of the sermon. But one thing the pastor said stood out to me, which I will not likely forget: "It is not our grip on God that matters, but rather God's grip on us." When he first made the statement, I was somewhat at a loss as to what his point was. He went on to explain that no matter how tight our grip was on God, eventually our hands would get tired and our grip would fail. But it as at those moments of our weakness that we need to rely on God's grip upon us. As both verses 28 and 29 state, no one is able to snatch us from the hands of God. His grip upon us is both perfect and complete.
So the question becomes: How can we strengthen God's grip upon us? As the pastor went on to say, we strengthen God's grip upon our lives as we do His will and draw our daily walk into a closer line with the steps of God and of Jesus. We need to make sure that we are God's sheep. Of course this first requires that we give our hearts and lives over to Him, and accept His free gift of salvation. But it does not end there. Jesus says in verse 27 that His sheep will both hear His voice and follow Him.
The image I get is this: when we allow God into our hearts, He immediately cups His hands around us, and we will always remain in His hands. Each time we hear from God and follow His will and commands for our life, God squeezes His grip a little tighter to draw us closer to Him. The tighter His grip becomes and the closer He draws us to Him, the more confident and content we become in our daily lives, and the easier it becomes to face and overcome our problems. No matter how much we try, we can never strengthen our own grip enough to make sure we will never let go, but we can have assurance that God will never let go of us.
Prayer: Our dear heavenly Father and Lord, we thank You for Your gift of salvation and for placing us in Your hands. Give us the faith and ability to hear and follow You, that You might draw us closer into Your bosom and closer to Your heart, and that we might rely on this confidence to face the problems and difficulties that come our way. Amen.