July 8, 2020

‘He Will Hold Me Fast’—A Promise Worth Holding On To

A few years ago at a Niddrie Community Church weekend away, we sang Matt Merker’s re-working of the hymn He Will Hold Me Fast. For us at 20schemes, this hymn quickly became a much loved anthem. In all the toil, struggles, joys, and (seeming) setbacks of church planting in the schemes, the truth that God is indeed holding us fast is vital. It provides us with the strength to get through each day.

He Will Hold Me Fast

I praise God for how He is calling people to Himself through the building of healthy churches in Scotland’s schemes. Having known the leaders of 20schemes for many years, I’m encouraged by their evident zeal to see the the good news of Jesus transform lives in the schemes of Scotland.

I studied in Edinburgh in 2005, and while the dramatic scenery and rich history of the city give it a unique beauty, there is nothing more beautiful than what is happening by God’s grace in that city’s communities (and elsewhere in Scotland) that have been so overlooked by this world, as 20schemes seeks to exalt Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.

I can identify with the man who tells Jesus, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:23). My faith doesn’t always seem strong. Questions and doubts sometimes flood my mind. I don’t have it all figured out. It is in times of uncertainty that I need to be reminded of one central truth: He will hold me fast.

God’s Word teaches us that we are saved by God’s grace alone (Eph. 2:8). We receive God’s forgiveness as a free gift, through repentance of sin and faith in Christ. But total dependence on God isn’t just how we begin the Christian life. It’s how we keep on walking with Christ to the very end. Just as we are saved by God’s grace alone, so also we are sustained, preserved, and kept in the faith by that very same grace.

I encountered the words of this hymn a few years ago when I was walking through a particularly dark season of stubborn doubt. I desperately wanted to hold on to Christ, but it felt like my weak fingers were losing their grip. This song reminded me that as I hold on to Jesus, he is holding on to me even more firmly, with a grasp that will never weaken. Jesus promises, “All that the Father gives to me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out” (John 6:37). Later, he says, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:28).

This hymn is honest about the challenges of the Christian life. We sometimes feel that our faith might fail. Our path is fearful and our love for God is often cold. But the original hymn writer, Ada Habershon, calls us not to place our hope in our feelings or in how well we seem to be holding on to God.

Rather, she reminds us that ‘His promises shall last’. He has bought us at ‘such a cost’—the blood of Christ—and therefore he will keep us to the end. By rehearsing these truths, struggling pilgrims like me can find our confidence renewed, because our confidence is not in ourselves. It is in the One who holds us fast. He is the One “who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy” (Jude 24).

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