There is a very little book in the Bible that tells us a lot about living well. In response to some very scary things that were going on at the time, the book’s author wrote, But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.
And the writer ends the letter with a beautiful benediction which says:
Now unto him who is able to keep you from falling and to make you stand without blemish in the presence of his glory with rejoicing, be glory, power and authority, now and forever.
This benediction says something about God and it says something about us. And I think if we sit down beside the still waters of these words and ponder their meaning, there will be something for us to hold in our hearts, something that might help us through life.
First, we learn something about God: that God is able. And that tiny little phrase says a lot. It says that when we are sick, or hurt, or in trouble, God is able to reach out to us and help us.
It also says that we are protected from falling. The fear of falling is very real. Falling is frightening. Mountain climbers rope themselves together with a skilled mountaineer who can take the weight, so that if they begin to slip, they won’t fall all the way.
And the writer of this benediction tells us to stay close — tied close to our divine protector, and tied close to each other. And that somehow, we’ll be kept from falling.
This is a great word of hope. Things really do go “bump in the night.” Life really does take wrong turns. Hearts do break. People disappoint us sometimes, and let us down. Life is sometimes dull and tasteless and downright painful.
But the little benediction says: There is One who is able to keep you from falling.
Annie Dillard tells about the monarch butterfly that flies, and makes it all the way across Lake Superior, a distance of about 500 miles, without a rest. Thousands and thousands of delicate butterflies make their way across that mighty lake each year.
But Annie Dillard says that none of them arrive without being wing-battered. “They are snatched at from behind. Hind legs torn off by the birds that picked on them along the way.” It really is rough out there.”
You probably know that.
So I hope you will also know that though our journey can be rough, and we are often wing-battered, there is a divine protector who is able to keep us from falling.