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Hold It!

"And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand." John 10: 28-29

My father-in-law, Emory Deloach, owned and operated a garage and service station in Denmark, Georgia for many years. I have never known a happier, more positive person than Mr. Emory. If you had a problem with your vehicle, he could fix it. And, if you had a problem in your life, he would point you to the one who could fix it. Actually, Mr. Emory fixed me up with a wonderful life partner by giving me one of his daughters, Penny Ann! Deloach's service station was sort of an icon in Denmark. Folks came from all over to have their cars and trucks repaired or serviced. Farmers brought tractors and equipment too. Mr. Emory worked on everything from Land Rovers to lawnmowers. He made service calls too, like fixing a flat tire on I-16 and charging five dollars to do it. Once, a female college student had a car problem at night and ended up spending the night with the Deloach family until the next day when her car was repaired. Former Atlanta Falcons' wide receiver, Michael Jenkins was one of Mr. Emory's clients too and he even visited the Deloach home to show thanks for the help.

Mr. Emory and Mrs. Mary Deloach have both passed away from Denmark and are with God in Heaven. Yet, their influence lives on, especially in their family members who knew them best. That's why when it came time to clean out the shop, the vise on his workbench really interested me. I could really not imagine how many broken things Mr. Emory held in that vise and fixed on that table. After receiving permission to take the vise, I tried to removed it from the table but could not, at least with the removing tools I had. Mr. Emory really anchored that vise well to the bench, so I decided to just get the bench and I'd have the vise too. With the help of a couple of my younger Christian friends, I recently moved the work table out to my barn. No, I don't plan on opening a garage, but I do want to preserve the nostalgia of the accomplishments of a person who focused on solving problems and the foundation of how it happened. I also see a theological application in that our lives on Earth are like work benches. There seems to always be something that is broken and needs fixing. If you think you have a problem that can't be fixed - "Hold It!"

God knows all about our problems, our break downs and our break ups. He also knows you can't fix something you cannot hold. Excuse the slang, but "God's gotcha!" God has a grip on you and will not let go! Think about it; God's hand holds us with omnipotent power on one side, Jesus Christ's hand holds us with redeeming grace on the other side, and the Holy Spirit contains us with conviction and comfort on the inside. Even before we have any problems, God often lays us out on life's work bench to shape us and shift us for His glory.

"But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand." Isaiah 64:8

It's good to know that we are triple safe and secure in the hands that shaped the mountains and oceans and flung the stars into space. When we realize that nothing, absolutely nothing, can get us away from God permanently, we have to feel good about every aspect of life.

I just received a text from a church member whose loved one just completed serious surgery and is in ICU saying their loved one has experienced a setback and they are not out of the woods yet. Now that's when we have to hold it, and lay everything out on the table. Prayer is surely an important tool to have on life's workbench. The work bench from Mr. Emory's shop is stained with oil and grease because that's what comes out of parts when they're broken and are being repaired. Prayer lubricates a believer's life, and if anything brings "oily" prayers out, it's a broken heart, crying out to God for help. Yet, the comfort is understanding that God doesn't just leave us out to flop and flail frantically on life's work bench; He has anchored a gripping hold on life's table to anchor our soul with hope.

Remember, it's not so much our grip on God, but God's grip on us that matters most. Crossing a busy street with a small child you might tell the child to hold your hand tight, but you know that what really keeps the child safe is not his or her holding your hand, it is your grip on theirs. No one can take us out of His grasp - not the devil, not cancer, not a heart attack, not even ourselves!

"For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor princi-palities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8: 38-39

We ought to thank the Lord for His nail-pierced hands that reached out in love and took us by our hand. God has held us so far, and we can trust Him to keep us safe to the end. The vise on the workbench proves that the holding power must be stronger than any other power. A child of God will never, ever get away from God. If you think you can - "Hold It!" God will come after you because you are His, His precious, only begotten Son died for you, and His Holy Spirit has stamped you as His own possession.

God knew we would need a firm gripping device on our life's workbench because we are so prone to stray away from Him! It's not that Christians want to leave God, it's just that our fallen sinful nature still feature seeds of rebellion and restlessness. Robert Robinson's hymn "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing," is one of my favorites. The third stanza really accurately depicts the believer's need and assurance of God's firm grip:

        "O to grace how great a debtor
        daily I'm constrained to be!
        Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
        bind my wandering heart to thee.
        Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
        prone to leave the God I love;
        here's my heart, O take and seal it;
        seal it for thy courts above. A-men."

God's strong hand holds us by His constraining Grace like we hold a kite string, thereby causing the kite to soar above the obstacles of the lowlands to higher ground.

So, when you feel as though your world is coming unglued, just lay it all out on the workbench. There is nothing sadder than a Christian allowing Satan to hold himself/herself captive by worrying. If we would realize how much God loves us and how powerful and wise He is, we would tell the devil - "Hold It!" Do you want me to call my elder brother?" That reminds me that another important tool for our life workbench is a hammer. The workbench in my barn is really heavy - it is made of solid material. Jesus said that if we build our lives on obeying God's word, we'll have a good solid foundation and when the storms come, we will be able to survive. God's word is also like a hammer, and when a hammer smashes something against a solid foundation, the something is altered. A workbench is also a good place for the hammer to drive a nail to secure pieces together. Mr. Emory's work table too was covered with metal sheeting to aid in preventing the wood from being exposed to harmful chemicals and fluids. Certain areas of the metal have worn and rusted and need to be replaced. This metal covering is like our believing the promises of God. It's not that the promises fade, but our feelings and awareness get rusty and need refreshing. Now, if you have any doubt that God does not have a firm hold on you and you feel as though you're about to fall off the table - "Hold It!"

"For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day." II Timothy 1:12

A work table also collects a lot of sweat. When our lives, or the lives of someone we love are broken, it takes a caring effort to mend a broken heart. If you want, with all your heart, to tell someone that you love them, say as little as possible about it, and show them in loving deeds. George Washington was riding across farmlands with a company of gentlemen, when the last horse over a stone fence knocked over a number of stones, leaving a large hole. Washington suggested they stop and repair it, but the others shrugged their shoulders; so he said nothing more and rode on with them. When the party disbanded, one of them, riding homeward, found Washington back at the farmer's fence carefully replacing the stones. "Oh General," said the man, "You are too big a man to be doing a thing like that." "No," answered Washington, inspecting his work, "I'm just the right size." Now that is work table attitude; not just words but actions, and actions make you sweat. I'm sure what motivated Mr. Emory to spend so much time and work so hard around the work ta-ble was the love he held in his heart for his wife and daughters, and for his many friends and neighbors. A workbench with a vise is a sure evidence that if something is broken, you fix it, you don't throw it away. If you feel like giving up on yourself or someone you love, "Hold It." Get on the bench and work at it until you sweat.

Probably, many diverse, broken situations and parts were laid on that table at Deloach's service station. On our life's workbench are also many areas needing repair. Sickness, marriage, temptations, family, and so many other areas of our lives are vulnerable to Satan's attacks and our failures. Even when we know we're on His table and he holds us securely, we don't understand what God is doing. A neighbor and friend of Mr. Emory told me that when Mr. Emory was working on a difficult problem at his workbench, he would not say much. And he said, more times than once, if you started talking, giving opinions or advise, Mr. Emory would step back and say, "Do you want to do this?" to which the bystander would say, "No, I don't know what to do." Sometimes we imply that we're trying to tell God what to do when it comes to fixing things when we do "Hold It." God is in control and we must remember that we are but a work in progress.

Many things that we regard as misfortunes are blessings. Trials and crosses are often among the greatest blessings in disguise, for it is only through such discipling processes that the character is perfected. Jesus said that we will have tribulations, so we also must have a work table and something to hold us securely during the trial. If nothing ever broke and there were no flat tires, there would be no need for garages and work tables. And if there was no sin and human failure, there would be no need for the cross. But there are garages and work tables and there was a cross and there is a Saviour. So, if you are dealing with brokenness in your life or the life of a loved one, "Hold It" dearly and thankfully. You may be building a workbench that someone will want to preserve as a reminder that broken things can be fixed when it's on the table and in God's hands. George Matheson, the blind preacher of Scotland, prayed this work table prayer: "My God, I have never thanked thee for my "thorn." I have thanked thee a thousand times for my roses, but never once for my "thorn." I have been looking forward to a world where I shall get compensation for my cross, but I have never thought my cross as itself a present glory. Teach me the glory of my cross, teach me the value of my "thorn." Show me that I have climbed to thee by the path of pain. Show me that my tears have made my rainbow."

God often provides a table in the wilderness, a workbench of grace in just the right place. Even though we don't know what tomorrow holds, we know who holds tomorrow! Our Lord is so wonderful! May God help us to praise Him right now! Don't hold back because of a setback, "Hold It" up.

Brother Randy

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