One summer during the break between my freshman and sophomore years of college, I was a camp counselor at Camp Pattersonville, a small Christian camp outside of Schenectady, New York. The job came as an answer to prayer and through the advocacy of a friend on my behalf. It didn’t pay much and it was hard work, but I look fondly back on the experience as a time of spiritual learning, living in community with Christian people, and being viewed as a member of a team working towards the same goals.
My partner for much of the summer in caring for the youngest group of girls was also a singer and guitar player. She led the evening campfire songs and the worship time the team members had each day. It was from her that I learned a song that has stayed with me all these many years since that summer. The song was from Romans 8:38-39 sung in the folky, praise singing style of the mid 1970’s.
Here is the King James Version, as that is how we sang it and how I’ve memorized it:
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers(past), nor things present, nor things to come,
Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
This is probably my favorite verse from the Bible. I view it as a beacon of light and have throughout my life. It has been a lifeline for me when I am depressed, a verse of hope when I have failed, a message of confidence amidst miserable circumstances, and additionally, an encouragement to pass on to those who are experiencing similar low points in their journey of faith. Even during my good times, this verse becomes a song of praise, acknowledging God’s presence in my life.
This verse has a simple message: Nothing can separate us from the love of God.
I know there can be a lot of doctrinal discussion on this, but for me it states that despite everything going on in this world and around me, God has me, and He isn’t going to let go.
My personal cross reference for this verse, the one that confirms this for me is:
…for He has said, “I will never [under any circumstances] desert you [nor give you up nor leave you without support, nor will I in any degree leave you helpless], nor will I forsake or let you down or relax My hold on you [assuredly not]!” Hebrews 13:5c Amplified Bible
No one is excluded from difficulties on this earth. We all have doubts. We all have our worlds shaken at one time or another. We all want to go our own way at times. But one thing remains constant. God keeps us. We belong to Him, and no one, not one thing can take us away from Him.
- Like the shepherd who loses a sheep and leaves the other sheep to search for the lost one. (Matt. 18:12)
- Like the father of the prodigal, who runs out to meet his homecoming son. (Luke 15:11-32)
- Even as we grow old and gray, He is with us and sustains us. (Isaiah 46:4)
There are times we may feel separated, but remember our emotions aren’t always reliable. There are times when God seems far away, but He isn’t far. He is just quiet, patient, and waiting.
Always looking out for our best interests.
Always near us.
During these times, call out for Him. Look for His presence. Depend on the community of believers to remind you that He is there. Keep the promises close, and at just the right time He will make Himself known to us.
You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13 ESV
May God’s presence be ever known to you, even when you feel separated from Him. Amen