Bible Reading: Romans 8
Romans 8:35-39, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 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.”
My coworker and I noticed a dead porcupine lying by the side of the road, as we were headed to do a patient visit. Its ill-timed venture to cross the road had apparently led to its tragic demise. We stopped to take a look at the poor creature. They say It’s easy to tell when a porcupine gets mad. They stomp their feet, hiss and shake their tens of thousands of quills, which normally lie flat against the porcupine’s body. They defend themselves by charging or swatting their spiked tail at opponents. But with all extended, that poor porcupine’s quills were no match for a fast-moving vehicle.
We humans are too much like porcupines. Our prickly ways are always working against us. This broken world is filled with so many broken relationships. Sin is at the heart of it. We tend to get mad, stomp our feet and put others at a distance. The Devil delights in every broken marriage, broken home and any other broken relationship. I recently visited a fellow who married his high school sweetheart. Having been married for some seventy years, they defied the norm when it comes to human relationships. Still, even in their exemplary situation, the deep pain associated with separation was unavoidable when his wife died. So it is in this world, we are too often saying goodbye to someone, whether in a tearful farewell or a good riddance sort of way.
Sin worked to separate us from God and left unresolved it’ll separate a sinner from God forevermore. The heartbreak associated with the broken relationships in this world foretells of a heartbreak of infinite proportion when an unrepentant sinner suffers “the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might” (2 Thessalonians 1:9).
Believers in Christ, on the other hand, have been mercifully brought into a relationship with God which is eternally secure. A search is made in our passage for every adverse circumstance which might work to undo that which God has done. Who, or what, is going to separate us? Is there any entity or force which can work to steal us away from God? The list of possibilities is long and all-inclusive, because it speaks ultimately of anything else in God’s creation! Yet there is nothing which can work to unbind that which God has bound. Friends may fail us. Foes assail us. But He “will never leave (us) nor forsake (us)” (Hebrews 13:5).
The One who has so loved us in Christ and is greater than all, who knows all about our porcupine ways, holds us so tight “no one is able to snatch (us) out of (His) hands” (John 10:29). So, in this life, we learn much of the pain of separation. I’ve talked to many older folks who have said so many goodbyes to family members that there was no one left to say goodbye to! Yet be encouraged in this dear believer–the God who knows all about your porcupine ways has worked to save you from your sins. He loves you with a love which cannot fail. And even when that time comes, when you breathe your final breath and say goodbye to this world, your departure will work to bring you to a place where death and sorrow will be no more! You’ve a friend in heaven from whom you cannot be separated! How blessed we are in this wonderful truth!
O LOVE THAT WILL NOT LET ME GO
O Love that will not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee.
I give thee back the life I owe,
that in thine ocean depths its flow
may richer, fuller be.
O Light that follows all my way,
I yield my flick’ring torch to thee.
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
that in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
may brighter, fairer be.
O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee.
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
and feel the promise is not vain,
that morn shall tearless be.
O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee.
I lay in dust, life’s glory dead,
and from the ground there blossoms red,
life that shall endless be.