“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39
Two years ago I traded in my Ford Explorer and purchased a Ford F-150 King Ranch Truck. I love my truck. My wife Kendall recently inherited a dining room set from her grandmother. All we had to do is get the furniture from Moncks Corner, SC to Dallas, TX. This was the perfect job for my truck and me.
In February I pulled out of Dallas and headed for the Lowcountry of South Carolina. I felt like a real man as I motored east on I-20 in my big truck. I felt invincible, proud, manly—I was made for this! When I arrived in Moncks Corner I picked up a sizeable trailer at the Uhaul dealer—12 feet long and 6 feet wide. The trailer had a double axle, which means it had four wheels. With the trailer attached to my truck I felt like I was driving a big rig. No doubt there were many other jealous motorists admiring my truck, trailer, and talent.
Kendall’s family helped me load the trailer and pack it full. The truck and trailer performed flawlessly as I made my way to my sister’s house in Atlanta, GA. There’s no doubt that all the folks in Chastain Park were quite impressed as I navigated my way through their neighborhood to my sister’s house. The next morning, I woke up early and set out with my heavy load for a full day’s drive. Next stop Dallas, Texas! I cranked up some Ronnie Milsap and Willie Nelson (trucker tunes written well before most of your time). I was on top of the world as I passed by Talladega Super Speedway. In the back of my mind I could hear Ricky Bobby saying: “Shake and Bake”. That’s just what I was doing—shakin’ and bakin’!
I stopped for gas in Pell City, AL, just outside of Birmingham. After refueling, I made my way back onto I-20 westbound quickly returning to highway speed. Just as I passed over a bridge over water something went seriously wrong. My truck tried to jerk lose from underneath me. The trailer began to sway like a bucking horse from side to side. I looked in the rearview mirror and I could read the writing on both sides of my trailer.
That is not a good thing when you are driving highway speed down the interstate. I wasn’t feeling tough, manly or invincible. I was terrified—like a scared child wanting his mother. Somehow I was able to bring my truck to a halt and pull into the emergency lane. I thought that it must be a flat tire. As I walked around my rig to identify the problem I noticed that it was much worse than a flat tire. The trailer had almost completely disconnected from my truck. All that was holding the trailer to my truck were two small safety chains. Without those chains I would have lost the trailer and the furniture inside. Thank goodness for those chains! Though my truck had let go of the trailer, the trailer had not let go of my truck.
Our lives tend to look a lot like my trip. We think we are unstoppable and can do no wrong. We make promises to the Lord about all that we are going to do for Him. We tell God to lead us and we will follow Him wherever He goes. We promise to love Him all of our days.
But like my trip, this feeling doesn’t last for long. In John 16 Jesus says, “In this world you will have trouble.” How true this is. Before we know it we beginning to break our promises and our vows to the Lord. We give into temptation and wander away from God. We let go of Him in order to take hold of idols of every kind that make promises to us that are too good to be true.
Our idols never keep their word. They promise us life and happiness but leave us feeling dead and despairing. As we survey the damage we have done—the consequences of our sin—we are filled with panic and fear. We feel so alone, like God has left us. We beg Him to return. We promise to do better, try harder, to never let Him down again. Before we know it, we give into the same old temptation and chase after the same worthless idols all over again. At some point we all wonder if we have strayed too far. We fear that we have finally become permanently disconnected from God. We worry that we have sinned too much and are now forever separated from God.
I know that many of you have never felt like this before. I’m sorry to say but you will. But, Paul gives us the most amazing word of hope and encouragement.
In Romans 8 Paul writes: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?… No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Though God calls us to hold onto Him, Christianity is about the God who holds onto us. Like the chains on the trailer, God will never let His people go. God loves us too much to give up on us. Over and over he promises us that He will never leave us or forsake us. On the cross, God the Father, turned His back on His one and only Son. The cross is a guarantee that He will never turn His back on His people—He will never let us go. We have more than two little chains holding onto our lives. We are held in the strong arms of our Heavenly Father, who created heaven and earth.
O Love that will not let me go, I rest my weary soul in thee; I give thee back the life I owe, That in thine ocean depths its flow May richer, fuller be.–George Matheson