Hold On

On October 22, 2017, in Sunshine Cathedral, by Rev.Dr. Robert

Hold On Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins Oct. 22, 2017 Let us dwell together in peace, and let us not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression; and now, may God’s word be spoken, may only God’s word be heard. Amen. “Pack up your troubles turn’em over to the Lord; that’s the thing to do […]

Hold On
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins
Oct. 22, 2017

Let us dwell together in peace, and let us not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression; and now, may God’s word be spoken, may only God’s word be heard. Amen.

“Pack up your troubles turn’em over to the Lord; that’s the thing to do – God’ll take care of you! Why don’t you pack up your troubles turn’em over to the Lord; the Lord is gonna take good care of you.”
I often sing my prayers. I learned that one as a child. In times of difficulty or uncertainty, the prayers I sing help me summon the power of hope, they help me feel encouraged, they help me hold on until my breakthrough comes…and they remind me that the breakthroughs are possible.

I had a professor in Divinity School who loved to walk but because of a childhood ailment he did so with some difficulty. Whenever I would see him I would ask, How are you, Professor?” He would invariably say, “Holding on.”

The dictionary definition of the phrase “hold on” is “to persist.” My grandmother called persistence “Percy.” When things were difficult, she’d say, “Percy will help me get through it.” Percy more often than not came through. In fact, Percy got her through college. She worked 9 months every year and then went to college in the summers. It took her 10 years to finish her Bachelor’s degree, but she held onto the dream and never stopped pursing it until her dream came true.

Maybe holding on seems to buy us only marginal victories or mere moments of relief, but sometimes, we get the breakthrough or the moment of clarity only because we kept holding on.

In John 19, Jesus is being tortured to death, and in the middle of his agonizing execution, he looks at his companion, the disciple he loved, and he looked at his mother, and he said to them, “Hold on to each other. Take care of other. Be his mother. Be her son. Don’t let go of each other.” In tough times, hold on…not only to hope, not only to faith, but also to one another.

The psalmist said, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” In other words, don’t give up. Hold on! It may feel like you are walking through hell wearing gasoline drawers, but hold on! Joy comes in the morning. A new day is on the way.

One way of understanding the word HOPE is, “Hold On; Pain Ends.” Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning. Hold on.

In the gospel of Luke, someone wants to be a disciple of Jesus, and Jesus says, “Let’s go. I can put you to work right away.” The person said, “Well, first let me tend to some personal business.” And Jesus said, “Do you want this or don’t you? Discipleship isn’t a hobby, isn’t what you do when you’ve settle more pressing matters. Are you in or aren’t you?” The guy wasn’t ready. And Jesus said, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is ready for the work of the kin-dom of God.”

Mules don’t push plows backward, they pull them forward. If you are going to take the handle of the plow of discipleship, that is a forward moving, non-stop proposition. Hold on to the plow and keep moving forward.

Our readings show us three people today who experienced miracles that were made possible by holding on.

Malinda Cramer had been ill for 25 years, bed ridden much of the time. She had spent a fortune on doctors, had moved from Indiana to California hoping a change in climate would help her health. Nothing helped.
A Quaker, she was a person of faith, and had been praying her whole life. After decades of bravely facing her troubles, suffering, praying, seeking medical help, holding on as best she could, she asked in prayer, “Is there a power in this vast universe that can help me? Is there a way through these troubles?” And the answer wasn’t an instant cure. You’ll be happy to know that over some weeks or even months she did become quite hale and hearty, but the miracle was the moment she saw her life in a new way.

She didn’t see herself any longer as a victim of circumstance, but rather as part of the very Source of life Itself. She felt alive with the light and life of God, and that was her answer, and that was her miracle. Her circumstances finally improved, but her real healing was the conviction that nothing could possibly separate her from divine love. And she got to that miraculous change of perception by not giving up…for 25 years she held on until finally she got a breakthrough.

Nona Brooks had been sick for a year, but her financial health had been in the toilet for much longer. A Presbyterian, she was a person of prayer. She spent a year praying, “Give me light.” A year! But she held on, and finally, she too had a mystical experience that left her feeling as if divine love and light had flooded her being. Her conditions also improved, but not immediately. The immediate breakthrough was the awareness that she was part of God, held by God, loved by God, and could never be separated from God. She got to that miraculous awareness because she held on until she got her moment of clarity.

Moses was praying. Funny how these breakthroughs come in moments of prayer. Moses was praying and God said to Moses, “My presence will go with you.” Moses said, “That’s nice, now, show me your glory.” God basically tells Moses, “You can’t handle all of this, but hold on. I’ll pass by you, and I’ll make sure you are safe in a little cave, the cleft of the rock, and after I pass by, you can see the trail of light that follows me. You can’t see all of my glory all at once, but you can get a glimpse of it…you can experience a bit of it.” And so Moses was able to see and experience some of the vast glory that is the very fabric of Life itself.

Like John and Mary, maybe we need to hold onto the people in our lives, giving and receiving comfort and encouragement.

Like the Psalmist, maybe we need to remember that the darkness is followed by the dawn, a new day with new opportunities and new possibilities is on the way…that makes it worth holding on.

Like the would be disciple who wasn’t quite ready to make a full commitment, maybe we need to remind ourselves to hold on to the plow of spiritual growth and move forward in sacred service.

Like Malinda Cramer and Nona Brooks, maybe we need to hold on, no matter how long it takes for our miracle to show up, but just keep praying, waiting, and knowing that something good could well be on the way, so hold on.

Like Moses, maybe we should summon the courage to ask for the very best, and then hold on while we wait to see how the answers will show up for us.

Whatever the need, hold on. Breakthroughs are on the way, and yours could be next. So, hold on. And this is the good news. Amen.

I will hold on to the power of hope.
And I will share hope with others in need.
Miracles are on the way.
Alleluia!
Amen.

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