I remember it like it was yesterday – the roadside carnival my best friend and I visited. We were old enough to be driving around by ourselves and enjoying the wonderful freedom of sudden financial affluence from that American teenage institution, the First Job (I think I may have made a whopping $5/hour for rendering my expert services at an animal hospital, which included nearly fainting during a procedure my first week there) combined with the unparalleled excitement of the First Car.
Now it must be understood that when I was born, babies were still coming home from the hospital in cardboard boxes. The current 10 gazillion dollar industry in baby safety products had not yet been unleashed on an unsuspecting public. Apparently, traveling roadside carnivals had not yet undergone their safety revolution either at that point in history (if indeed they have had one). My friend and I picked a ride and climbed into our seats, giggling and giddy. Thin metal lap bar in place, we began to sail upwards towards the sky. Once our car began to tip and sway, we realized with horror that our lap bar would not latch. The attendant who checked to be sure everything was okay before starting the ride must have been so dazzled by us (I’m sure that’s what we told ourselves) that he completely forgot to perform his safety checks.
Mostly what we remember from that ride is bracing ourselves and hanging on for dear life. Presumably, the operator of the ride paid no attention to all our hollering because screaming people are the norm on carnival rides. When our car began to flip upside down, things really got tense. Thankfully, we did not fly out of our seats and we lived to walk out on shaky legs, as we pledged to each other to NEVER visit another roadside carnival, and NEVER tell our mothers what had just happened…at least not for a long, long time.
The story I just shared was brought back to mind today as I read the Apostle Paul’s words, “By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.” (I Cor.15:2, emphasis mine)
There’s something exclusive about holding firmly to something. On that ride, if Lara and I had been eating funnel cakes when we got on (who knows- eating on rides was probably allowed back then!), as much as I love a good funnel cake, that cake would have turned into a Frisbee as soon as I realized my hands were needed if I wanted to walk back to the car and not ride off in an ambulance.
To hold on firmly to something, we have to be willing to let go of something else.
The question we must ask is, are we holding firmly to the Word – the Word that became flesh and dwelt among us – or are our hands too full of other things to get a tight grip?
I am the notorious Queen of One Trip…trying to get everything from the car into the house in one load…and I can tell you from repeated experience – something usually gets dropped.
Are we hanging on for dear life with both hands, or do we just have a finger hooked on to the Living Word while we also fumblingly attempt to clutch ____________ (you fill in the blank)?
I certainly don’t want to have believed in vain. There’s no addiction, no habit, no relationship, no prize of this world that’s worth it.
If there is something today that’s keeping you from holding on firmly with both hands, may I encourage you to lay it down? I know the One who waits, love in His eyes, hands extended. He IS worth it. Don’t have believed in vain.