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Eternal Security and the State Fair of Texas

It was 1984, our daughter Melanie was about to turn six years of age, and all she wanted was for us to take her to the Texas State Fair. Continue reading . . .

It was 1984, our daughter Melanie was about to turn six years of age, and all she wanted was for us to take her to the Texas State Fair. We were living in Dallas at the time and didn’t want to disappoint her. However, the city had been filled with disturbing reports of young children being snatched while playing in their own backyards. I can still recall reading in the Dallas Morning News a warning to all parents who planned on taking their children to the fair. They were instructed to keep their children close at hand and not let them wander off along the midway. We took it to heart!

The fair was an incredibly entertaining event, especially for a six-year old girl who wanted to jump on every ride and eat everything she could lay her hands on. As we ventured down the midway, Melanie would constantly struggle to break free of my grip on her hand. She was first drawn to the Ferris wheel and then to a game of darts, and after that to the bumper cars and then to the booth selling cotton candy. She grew increasingly frustrated by my refusal to let her run free. But I assured her again and again that there wasn’t the slightest chance that I would ever let go of her hand, no matter how energetically she pulled to break free or how loudly she complained on being kept by my side. Although she was a precocious child at six, I don’t think she fully grasped my commitment to her as a father. She likely interpreted my refusal to let her run wild as the fearful and anxious strategy of an overly-protective and controlling parent whose primary aim was to rob her of the joys she otherwise might have experienced.

After more than two hours of this tug-of-war Melanie showed no signs of giving up. If anything, her stubborn little six-year-old heart had intensified in the determination to have her way along the midway, her daddy’s persistent grip notwithstanding. My question for you is this. What would you have thought of me had I said to her: “Fine! I’ve had enough of your nonsense. If you want to get yourself kidnapped and abused, go ahead. Have at it. I’m done with you. Your refusal to be grateful for my loving protection has worn me down,” spoken in a disillusioned tone as I let go of her hand and watched passively as she wandered into a potentially deadly crowd. I know what you would have thought, as I would have thought of you if it were your child: “What an incredibly unloving and weak-willed father! I can’t believe your alleged devotion to your child and your purported concern for her welfare could so easily dissipate under the pressure she imposed on you. What a jerk! If possible, I’d bring charges against you and make sure you suffered the full penal extent of the law.”

I can assure you of this one thing. No matter how frustrated or exhausted or disappointed I may have grown with her efforts to break free, nothing in this world could have induced me to let go of her hand. And don’t forget, I’m a fallen, selfish, and sinful man. Yet, my depravity notwithstanding, I would never, by no means ever, let go of my child and release her into a potentially dangerous crowd of strangers.

I’m sure you can see where I’m heading with this. If I, being evil, am committed to the ultimate safety and welfare of my child, how much more is your heavenly Father, being good, committed to yours! If it is inconceivable to me even remotely to consider the option of abandoning my child, how much less is it a possibility that your heavenly Father would ever dream of abandoning you. If I was willing to do everything imaginable to keep my little girl safe from life-threatening circumstances, including patiently enduring her incessant whining and lack of gratitude for such efforts, how much more will your heavenly Father do whatever is required to keep you safely and savingly embraced in his arms.

And it’s important to remember one additional difference. As the apostle Paul says in Romans 8:32, God the Father has already done the greatest thing imaginable and made the most costly sacrifice possible to secure our eternal safety. He has crucified his Son in our stead! He spared him not! He gave him up for us all! Thus when it comes to keeping a tight grip on our souls as we encounter the many threats and attacks and temptations of life, would he now decline to do what is immeasurably less? I think not. Of this you can be certain, and in it you may rest assured: Your loving and gracious heavenly Father will never let go of your hand; he will never, by no means ever, leave you or forsake you, or ever allow you to leave or forsake him!

[Adapted from my book, Kept for Jesus: What the New Testament Really Teaches about Assurance of Salvation and Eternal Security (Crossway), 85-87.]

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