“Just hang on!”
Emma’s knees jittered against the side of the climbing wall as she looked up at her friends waiting for her at the top. She had never been so high off the ground before. They tried to encourage her.
“You can’t fall!”
Emma knew it was true. The harness around her was secure. The ropes were strong. But she was still afraid. She put her hand on the next peg. Her sweaty palm made it hard to grip.
Somehow she hoisted herself onto the last ledge. Her body shook, either from fear or from muscle exertion—she did not know, but she was finally at the top. Her friends grabbed her hands as soon as she was free, and cheered.
The following Sunday Emma was in church with her family, listening to the sermon. The minister talked about perseverance. We can be set back in our walk, like David and Peter were, but only for a time. God preserves us and keeps us from falling. Not one elect saint will be lost. Not one elect saint can be lost. It is God’s work to save us entirely, and to bring us home to himself where he is. That is our comfort, and that is his glory. The text was from Psalm 121: “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help….” Emma remembered the last two verses: “The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.”
Emma thought about her climb on the wall. Perhaps it was not a full picture of what the minister was talking about, but the effort gave her a vivid idea of what it means to be kept safe from falling. Hanging onto those pegs and ledges high off the ground was a fearful thing. But there was nothing to fear. So it is when we know our heavenly Father holds us. There is nothing to fear. He will take us through all the trials of this life, to be with him forever. All we can do is thank him. The Reformed faith is beautifully simple and sure.
* * *
“Thus it is not in consequence of their own merits or strength, but of God’s free mercy, that they do not totally fall from faith and grace…which with respect to themselves is not only possible, but would undoubtedly happen; but with respect to God, it is utterly impossible, since His counsel cannot be changed, nor His promise fail….”
Canons V, Article 8