Last night we saw the movie "Hachi: A Dog's Tale." (Spoiler alert!) Based on a true story, it's such an amazing tale of love and loyalty. The dog waited for his deceased owner for over nine years at the train station where he had waited for him everyday since he was a young dog, until he himself died at the train station.
God reminded me of Heb 13:5: "for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!]" (AMP) I love the emphasis in the Amplified! Obviously the dog didn't understand that his owner wasn't coming back. But, what God reminded me was that, like that dog, He is always there for us, in everything, in every situation, in the parts of our hearts that are warm, and at those parts of our hearts that we're still learning how to open. He is ALWAYS waiting to receive us with love, loyalty, and patience. He is always there to support us, and He will never relax His hold on us, not even to the smallest degree!
Okay, first off, for you parents out there, this really is a great family movie that could easily lend to a discussion of what it means to be loyal and patient. Okay, now that that's out of the way, let's get back to Heb 13:5b. At the risk of sounding like a Bible teacher, I want to break down this verse phrase by phrase because each phrase is so powerful!
So, here's the breakdown:
- "for He [God] Himself has said..." That means God said this. No one made it up for Him. He said it and He does not lie!
- "I will not in any way fail you..." He will not fail us in any way! Yes, obvious, but profound. We fail ourselves and each other constantly. In our finiteness and sinfulness (that we're learning to overcome) we mess up. Sometimes from one second to the next. But God will never ever fail us!
- "nor give you up..." No matter what we do or say or how deep our sinfulness, His infinite, powerful love is greater! He will not give up on us.
- "nor leave you without support..." He promised to give us the Holy Spirit as our guide and comforter, and He has placed us in a body and set us in families. No matter what we are facing we are not without support. We can turn to the people He has put in our lives, but when they fail us we can turn to Him. Even before they fail us, before we turn to them, we should turn to Him. He should ever be the One to whom we first turn. "I lift up my eyes to the hills..." (Ps 121). God, the Maker of heaven, earth, and all things good, the One who is always watching over us and never sleeps, that amazing God is our Helper!
- "[I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless..." As if a singular statement is not enough, here it is stated three times for emphasis. He absolutely will not, under any circumstances, to even the tiniest degree, leave us helpless. He will always walk beside us. He will always lift us up and carry us. He will daily feed and nurture us, encouraging our growth and maturity. He will ever guide us, love us, care for us. He will not leave us alone. This is how we know the Deists were wrong. God is not a great watchmaker who after creating the thing, winds it up and lets it run its course without his interference. That is a god who leaves us. That is not our God. This is the acid test. If someone presents to you a god who is willing to stand by and watch and not be involved in your life, then you know that god is not the one true God. Again, God is our Helper!
- "nor forsake..." So what does forsake mean, exactly? It's not really an everyday term. Well, according to Dictionary.com it means, "(1) to quit or leave entirely; abandon; desert; (2) to give up or renounce;" and to completely decline, deny, refuse. God is not going to do any of that. Remember the emphasis, ("[I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree...")? He is adamant. He simply won't do it!
- " nor let [you] down..." He will never be a disappointment to us. Now there may be time when we feel hurt or confused or disappointed, but He will never let us down. Remember this phrase also comes after the emphasis. Even when it feels like He has let us down, He hasn't let us down! There are lots of reasons why we may feel that God has let us down. To this day I still feel disappointed at times that I had three C-sections when my desire was for natural birth. But despite the enemy's best efforts to convince me otherwise (and believe me, at times he had me convinced) I know without a shadow of a doubt that God did not let me down. I still don't fully understand why things happened as they did. I know some of it was related to choices I made, some of it can be contributed to the fact that we live in a fallen world, and there's probably a dozen other contributing factors. Regardless I know that God did not let me down. He was there with me through it all. He felt my pain and held my heart. Even when I couldn't feel how near He was to me, He was there. Just because something feels true does not mean that it is true. I have realized that the more I dwell on the negative of a situation, the more likely I am to believe that God has let me down. There are times when He has to let us go through things that are difficult. Recall that I said that He is daily encouraging our growth and maturity. Maturity does not take place in the absence of challenge. Just as there are times we have to let our kids struggle with something so they can master it, the same is true for us. Sometimes God has to let us struggle with things so that we can master them. There are also times when the greater good is at stake. What would have happened if God has rescued Jesus from the cross? You may be thinking, "Yeah, but He is God." Well, then what would have happened if John hadn't been exiled to Patmos. What would have happened if Daniel hadn't been taken into the king's service in Babylon? What would have happened if Joseph hadn't been taken into captivity in Egypt or Moses hadn't been exiled to the wilderness? And of course, there are countless other examples that prove my point. Adverse circumstances are the fertile fields into which God's glory is planted and eventually revealed. Tertullian said, "the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church." The fact is we do live in a fallen world. Bad things will happen. The world will let us down. People will let us down. But God will not, will not, will not in any degree let us down.
- "nor...(relax My hold on you)!..." He will always hold us tightly, close to His heart. He values us. He treasures us. Where your treasure is, there is your heart. That's as true for God as it is for us. He treasures us, so He makes His home in our hearts. (Eph 3:17) He will not relax His hold. Another thing, this is the final phrase after the emphasis, and the sentence ends with an explanation point--even more emphasis! It's not often that you see an explanation point in the Bible. I think God really wanted to drive home just how deeply He meant His promise that He won't leave us. He will always be with us. He always has room for us.
Hachi and Parker (Hachi's owner) had a regular meeting place where they met everyday. Hachi was waiting there for Parker. So, where is your meeting place with God? He is waiting for you there. Go to Him!
Psalm 121 (AMP)
A song of ascents.1 I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The LORD watches over you—
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The LORD will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
Ephesians 3:17 (AMP)
May Christ through your faith [actually] dwell (settle down, abide, make His permanent home) in your hearts! May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love, (Take the time to carefully read Eph 3:16-21 in the Amplified. It will blow you away!)