Hold fast to the LORD your God.
Master and Commander is a movie about a British warship in the early 1800s. In the film, there’s a wordless exchange that takes place between an old seaman and a young recruit whom he has taken under his wing. The ship is going into battle. Men are scurrying everywhere. As they do, the old seaman looks at the young recruit and holds out his fists. Tattooed across the eight knuckles of his two fists are two four-letter words. The words are, “HOLD FAST.”
The scene is not some Hollywood invention. “Hold fast” is a phrase that seamen have tattooed on their knuckles for generations. It appears that their use of the phrase goes back to the early days of sail, when a seaman had to hold onto his assigned rope (or line) during a storm or battle. He knew he had to “hold fast” to his line, or all would be lost. Over the years, the phrase has taken on a wider meaning: Stay focused. Don’t get distracted. Hold on to what matters. Never let go.
The Bible reading for today’s devotion is from a poignant moment. Joshua was the man God had used to bring the Israelites into the Promised Land of Canaan. After years of hardship and faithful service, Joshua’s work was done. He was an old man. His death was near, and he knew it. He gathered the Israelites’ leaders together one more time to say goodbye. As he did, he told them, “Hold fast to the LORD your God.”
Hold fast to the LORD your God. Stay focused. Don’t get distracted. Hold on to your Savior God for dear life. My mind, of course, has other ideas. It loves distraction. It lives for it. It cannot wait to find some new thing by which it can pull me away from the only Savior I’ve got.
When that happens, however—when I begin to let go—Jesus is there. He’s there, in love, to rattle me as needed. He’s there to bring me to repentance through his Word. He’s there to cleanse me in his forgiveness through his blood from the cross.
And as he does, he empowers me to hold fast all the more.
Lord Jesus, through the storms and battle of life, empower me to hold fast to you. Amen.
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