I went skiing. Once.
Now, you’ve got to understand that I am no athlete. Never have been, don’t pretend to be one, never will be. I used to run, but only under the cover of night or early, early morning, because I ugly run. Like an elephant. I.am.not.graceful.
But how hard could skiing be? I like snow, I like cold and I’m willing to try anything. Once.
First mistake: People who are not graceful, should never put on skis–ever. It’s not a pretty sight. I put those skis on and confidently started to shuffle my way from the lodge to the ski lift. I knew from that first skid across the ice that I was in trouble. But being the prideful, arrogant person that I was (and tend to be), there was NO WAY I was going to let on to anyone that I’d never skied before. And I certainly was NOT going to do some “bunny hill”. Nope, it was all or nothing for me.
I approached the ski lift, all the while talking and laughing as if it were the most natural thing in the world. Out of the corner of my eye, I tried hard to study what everyone else was doing around me, so that I could imitate them. I had this. Piece of cake.
Carefully watching the people in front of me, I figured out how to get on the ski lift. Not a problem. I settled in to enjoy the ride and the scenery as we slowly cranked our way to the top of the hill. I love being up high. I even love it more when there are no safety harnesses or straps, and there were none of this ski lift. I was free to look all over; I could see for miles. I wanted to look below us, so I leaned way forward and looked down. And then it happened.
No, I did not fall out. But had I, it might have been less embarrassing. No, instead I dropped a ski pole. That I had rented. That I was responsible for financially. I had neglected to put the strap around my wrist (OH….that’s what those are for! Missed that…..). In my panic of trying to turn around in the seat to look down and see where my pole had fallen (as if I could see it in the trees), I inadvertently dropped-the other-pole.
Now I had NO poles. Great. There went my rental deposit on my ski equipment. But more urgently, we were approaching the top of the hill, and I turned my attention to observing how to dismount from the ski lift. Not good. People were using their poles to push themselves away from the turning ski lift chair. I had no poles. Panic ensued. My seat mate laughed. We reached the top of the hill, and I gave myself a huge shove off the chair that sent it swinging. This gave me enough momentum to get down the small slope away from the lift. So far, so good.
But, alas, I had to get down the hill. I sat at the top awhile, waving people by me as I pretended to try to adjust my ski boot. But I couldn’t wait forever. So, acting like it was the most natural thing in the world, I approached the edge of the hill and looked down. WAY down. “You’ve Got This”, I pep talked to myself, and started shuffling my skis back and forth, trying to gain forward motion. Eventually it worked, I took off like a shot, waving my arms like you do when pretending you are an airplane, in hopes to keep my balance. I immediately fell. And that’s how it went for over an hour as I fell my way down the side of that hill. But I had failed to figure out how to stop. I shouldn’t have worried about it though, I slid right past everyone at the bottom, right past the lodge and into the fence that surrounded the property. That worked. I stopped.
So, what does that long winded story have to do with anything in Revelation? Working through Revelation 2:18-29 this week, I ran into a verse, that I have attempted to memorize this week. This letter to the church at Thyratira is the longest in this series of letters. The message to this church contains a stiff, stern warning. Well-deserved. Some in this church were tolerating the teachings of a “prophetess” who was teaching some of the servants of God to practice sexual immorality and eat food that had been offered to idols.
But after God’s stiff warning, he gives an instruction. A huge instruction, coupled with what I consider to be a promise.
24 But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden. 25 Only hold fast what you have until I come.
Only hold fast what you have until I come.
And so, I thought to myself, what do I have? I knew God was not referring to material things here. That would be completely inconsistent with His character. Although terribly important and my responsibility, I knew He didn’t mean hold fast to my children, because He said in Matthew 10:37
So what could God be talking about here..what is it that we are to hold fast to?
I wasn’t able to find much help in my Bible Study material on this phrase. But we don’t really need that much help with it, do we? We are to hold fast to the things of God. We are to hold fast to scripture. We are to hold fast to faith.
We are to hold fast to God, Himself. (see Jacob’s experience in Genesis 32:24)
How do we do this? There is only one way–time. Spending time with God. Spending time studying scriptures. Spending time worshipping and praying. This is how we fight the battle to hold fast.
But God gives a point of rescue in this verse, and much like a man dangling from an end of a rope and holding FAST until his rescuer comes, we are to hold fast until God comes again. And He will. He will come to take us Home, to heaven.
Had I held fast to my ski poles, the trip down would have been better. Sure there would still be the opposition of my awkwardness, but I would have possessed the confidence that having two poles for balance would have brought. If I hold fast to God’s word–and to God Himself, than God will strengthen me to continue to stand fast, in the face of tribulation and all this world has to throw at me. I love how Paul words it in his letter to the Thessalonians: “For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord.” Standing Fast. That’s where I want to be.
And I think that Psalm 119:31-33 sums it up beautifully:
31 I cling to your testimonies, O Lord; let me not be put to shame! 32 I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart! 33 Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end.
May we cling to God’s testimonies. May we run in the way of His commandments. May we keep the way of His statutes to the end, when God will come again, just like He promised.