Column – Hold Steady

Published 6:33 pm Friday, August 26, 2022

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By Charles Qualls

If we only pay attention to the experts, theorists and consultants who end up holding the figurative microphones so often, we’re probably not listening to a complete idea. If we only hear them, we would get the message that there is never an acceptable time to just hold where we are.

They would have us believe that it’s unacceptable to define a good day or restorative season of life by the fact that you managed to hold steady. But then we live a little more, and we know that one of the realities of life at times is finding a way to hold steady.

Sometimes, we look around and feel like we don’t really understand the world that surrounds us. We may not completely grasp the generations or the cultural variety that is layered into our world. All of the enmity and strife seems so needless. Where did civility go? Or, we may be in the midst of a time of challenge medically, emotionally or otherwise and suddenly holding steady is an ambitious goal.

I know in my congregation, that has been the case for so many. I’ve watched them do exactly that, with grace and with strength. I have joined them as we helped each other to hold steady at times as life ebbed and flowed.

The writer of Hebrews was noticeably convinced that in order to hold steady with our faith, through whatever life may throw at us, we’ll have to see the bigger picture. That is, the ability to hold steady as a spiritual person is tied directly to our ability to see a larger perspective rather than be focused on every smaller one that comes our way.

A recent scene from the Little League World Series illustrated how well a child could see a bigger picture. A boy who got hit in the head by a pitch rolled on the ground for a moment. Then, he was able to take first base as he recovered. The whole thing was scary. Next thing viewers knew, there he was calling timeout. He walked over to console the opposing pitcher who had hit him. All because he noticed his opponent was too upset to continue.

If we think back to the global computer scare of the year 1999, we recall the issue that was known as Y2K. All people remember now is that it didn’t turn out to be as big a deal as had been feared. But a woman from our church, who is a computer engineer, recalls things in a different way.

The disaster was averted only because people all over the world wrote a lot of new code for months on end. They formulated and delivered patches to keep machines running. She said, “As a computer engineer, we had to rewrite a lot of code. Simply because when they invented computers, no one seemed to stop and consider what might happen when the year 2000 arrived.”

Like Isaiah, the prophet Ezekiel and especially like John’s apocalyptic Revelation at the very end of our New Testament, this writer in Hebrews 12: 18-29 tells of a bigger picture. He encourages his listeners to hold steady.

Here, he reminds them of the frightfulness of approaching God at Mount Sinai earlier in their history. Then, of the grace and hope in approaching God at Mount Zion. Now, there is a new mountain. A new Jerusalem is promised to them. What the people had taken literally at Sinai and at Zion to be the homes of God, now we have promised as an eternity that can be spent in God’s presence.

The Hebrews had been warned to not forget, and cautioned to approach these mountains only in appropriate ways. Now those who put their faith in Christ are being invited to a mountain once again. They are beckoned to come. But to approach in the right frame of mind. Then, hold and not let go.

All you or I can see in a given moment is never all there is to see. All you fear is never all there is. All you don’t understand is never all there is. All that has hurt you is never all there is.

Hold steady because things can shift in a moment. Hold steady because nothing we have is permanent. Hold steady because the challenging moment isn’t going to be your last moment. Hold steady because the answer you can’t find just now will become apparent at some point.