"For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."
- Romans 8:38-39 (ESV)
Nothing can separate you from God's love. Nothing.
I remember it all very clearly. I was a young youth pastor, attending a week-long camp with some of my middle school students. One particular day, we were scheduled to participate in a "high ropes course" - a series of cables suspended between trees, high in the air. My students were unashamedly nervous, scared to climb so high with nothing to secure them but a rope and harness. I was scared, too, but even more scared to admit it.
The time came for me to "suit up" and make the climb. I summoned all my courage and put on a brave face. Like a determined utility worker climbing a telephone pole after a storm, I quickly ascended. Yeah, right. I took forever. I clung to that pole like grim death - which, incidentally, felt no more than 5-10 minutes away.
Finally, at the top of the pole, a super sweet, smiling camp staffer named Emily met me. She clearly expected a man of some sort, but got a panic-stricken, almost incontinent, 5'10", 200 pound baby instead. What followed was, as you can imagine, one of my life's most honest conversations.
"Emily, I'm terrified. I don't want to do this. I genuinely think that I might pee in my shorts."
"I'm sorry. What's your name?"
"Yeah, uh - no. I'm not telling you. This dies here."
"OK, well, you're totally safe. Just trust your equipment."
"Emily, you seem sweet. Really kind. Almost believable. But I don't trust this equipment. At all. And I don't trust you, either."
I looked down at my admiring middle school students. They were cheering me on. I didn't want to let them down (or climb back down) so I slowly embarked on the course, pale with fear and clinging to the cables with my bare hands like a pudgy, albino sloth.
Emily cheered me on as well, which probably would have felt quite emasculating had I the slightest concern about traditional American gender roles at that moment.
"Let go of the cable. Trust your equipment."
I ignored her, but felt my hands getting sorer and weaker by the second. Finally, my strength gave out. It was over. My grip slipped. I fell, but only a few feet. An amazing thing happened: my rope and harness caught me. I'd been safe all along, but didn't believe it. Only when I came to the end of my own strength did I realize the strength of the equipment holding me.
From that second forward, everything changed. I started laughing. I started enjoying myself. I felt less anxious, fearful, and neurotic. I could finally relax and explore, all because I realized that I was really, truly secure.
Child of God: you're a lot more secure than you might think. God's promised to never leave you. He's promised to never forsake you. He'll never let you go. Nothing can separate you from his love. Nothing. Not even you. Even when you fall short, you only and always fall into his loving arms. You're secure. Trust him. He's got you.
You're loved. Don't forget it.
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