This post was first shared as issue 28 of These Sacred Words
“Keep me close, Lord, hold me fast.”
In the last several months these words have been echoes in my head as I have become more keenly aware of the fact that Jesus is actively and continually sustaining my faith.
I’ve long believed that God is sovereign in salvation. I’ve read Ephesians 2, and I can clearly see from Scripture that apart from him I would be dead in my sins and a child of wrath and all the other terrible things Paul writes before sharing that life-changing “but God.”
But until recently I haven’t thought much on the fact that Jesus is actively and continually both interceding for and upholding my faith. As I’ve processed this over the last several months, I’ve noticed my prayers have been reflecting my heart. I’ve noticed the same words have been circling in my mind:“Keep me close.” “Hold me fast.”
As I read my Bible…
As I walk through difficult circumstances…
As I enjoy God’s blessings…
As I cry…
As I celebrate…
Keep me close. Hold me fast.
These prayers have become my exhales; as natural as breathing. With each passing moment, with each mountain and valley, I become more acutely aware that there is nothing in me that can sustain my own faith.
The words of my favorite hymn – words we recited at our wedding, a melody we’ve sung through tears and smiles in years since – well depict this reality: “I could never keep my hold through life’s fearful path; for my love is often cold; He must hold me fast.”
I used to think that my efforts were helping to carry my faith along, that my obedience and my morality were serving to bolster my right standing before God; but now, by God’s grace, I am realizing that it is his grace alone that is sustaining my faith in every moment.
And as I sink further into this understanding, I find a joy I didn’t know before. I am able to proclaim and pray along with the psalmist,“Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit” (Ps. 51:12). Day by day I understand these words a little more. It is the joy of HIS salvation that is restored to me. The willing spirit I feel towards him is nothing more than his own Spirit in me compelling me to know and love him more.
Oh what hopeful news this is! Friend, it is not on you to sustain your faith. Allow your white-knuckled grip to release as you realize that through all things, there is one of infinite strength, cosmic sovereignty, and boundless power who has been holding you all along, who has promised to sustain and carry your faith until the end.
“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 must hold me fast.
Those He saves are His delight, Christ will hold me fast;
Precious in his holy sight, He will hold me fast.
He’ll not let my soul be lost; His promises shall last;
Bought by Him at such a cost, He will hold me fast.
For my life He bled and died, Christ will hold me fast;
Justice has been satisfied; He will hold me fast.
Raised with Him to endless life, He will hold me fast
‘Till our faith is turned to sight, When He comes at last!
He will hold me fast, He will hold me fast;
For my Savior loves me so, He will hold me fast.“