Hebrews 10:19-31                      “Fall Into God’s Hands”


            Sometimes in our bible readings we need to do what is reverse thinking. Why does the writer mention one thing or another? Something in the community of the reader has become a big enough concern to warrant a mention in a scroll that is being sent around and read aloud to the churches. What is the big concern in our text for this morning? Look at verse 25, please.

            “Do not forsake the practice of meeting together. . . .” The people had gone into hiding because of fear of persecutions. They had stopped congregating for worship as they had done before. Could you imagine being too afraid to come to worship or being told that you might die if you do?! Guess what? You already know! This is what we ourselves have experienced since the outbreak of Covid.

            Way back in the late 1990’s a social scientist by the name of Robert Putnam wrote a book entitled Bowling Alone. I read it my first year here in Waimea. In the book, the author talks about the statistical evidence already fifty years ago that community engagement was waning in American society. He warned that democracy itself is contingent on civic engagement. In essence, people need to come together and be with one another if true democracy is going to take place.

            I would like to take that concept and apply it to faith in Jesus Christ. I need to point out that the first act of grace recorded in the Bible is that of God making sure that Adam was not alone in the Garden of Eden. Is it possible to have faith in God without sharing with others? Yes. Adam had faith. Yet, God recognized that he had nobody to share that faith with and graced him with Eve. An unshared faith in God is not what God sees as a fulfilling faith. God created us to be together.

            A Yale University study on parking habits showed that even in a completely empty parking area, people tended to clump-park together. Hundred of empty stalls, and ten cars always just automatically clump together to park. I have noticed this same mentality in church. I can suggest that you all spread out and sit six feet a part, but it does not come naturally to us. We prefer to clump together in worship. No worries—that is just how God made us.  

            You know, you could have an incredible personal faith life. You could have hundreds of “friends” on Facebook. It will not equal in any way a simple elbow bump, or better yet hug, from a brother or sister in Christ. That is why Covid restrictions have been so hard on us. This is why the pundits tell us to send the kids back to school to be with their classmates even at the risk of spreading the virus further. We need to come together.

            The Christian theologian John Knox notes in his writings from Scotland over five hundred years ago in his “Compleat Sermon on Christian Duties” that there can be “no Christian in isolation.” You remember John Knox: he came up with Scottish Presbyterianism! His thought is that one cannot have a church without presbyters (elders), and we in the Congregational tradition take that one step further by noting that you cannot have a church without congregants. Amen to that!


            That is a real amazing point to make in the text for this morning; however, it does not seem to be the main point. At the very end of the text we read the line: “It is a fearful thing falling in the hands of God.”

            Last week we read and then heard about giving up our own will and letting the Will of God take over in our lives. What does that actually feel like? This sentence describes it best: “falling into God’s hands.” It is like jumping from an airplane—with no parachute—knowing God is going to catch you.

            This last Monday I was swimming in the ocean. I went to see if I could see those beloved nu-nu fish. No, the ocean was really churning. The waves were crashing. I could see that the riptide in the middle of Salt Pond was really pumping. All this gave me pause for a moment, but then I said to myself “yah, I go swim in the water.” I figured out the lull in between two breaks and stayed right there to swim. Everything was fine because I turned before getting to the rip in the middle.

            Then, the rip in the middle decided to wag over and catch me. Shootz, I was half out to the open ocean before I could swim out of it again. It really sucked. I can say that about riptides, right? There is that moment when you realize that you can be swimming as fast as you can, as hard as you can, as deep as you can, but it makes no difference. Just when you need your heart to be pumping as fast it can to get you out, the fear seems to make the heart stop.

            I have been caught in riptides before. One would think that I am used to them by now. But no, each time I react in fear. And in that moment, I meet that fear with the understanding that if God was to take my life just then, at least I would be in the hands of God. So, I turn it over to God. “God it is in your hands.”

            A few years back there was a popular county song entitled “Jesus, Take the Wheel!” by Carrie Underwood. In the lyrics a female driver is driving too fast at night and hits black ice. The car spins out. She throws up her hands: “Jesus, take the wheel.” She survives as the car lands on the shoulder of the highway. Her child in the back seat is fine, and she dedicates her life to Christ in that moment.

            In that song, I have to note that something happens that seems perhaps unnatural to most of us. Instead of grabbing the steering wheel tighter and trying to control the vehicle in the spin, the woman turns control of the vehicle over to her Lord. There is not time to even think about it. So, the song ends. I wish there had been a third verse to the song that would share about the next morning getting behind the wheel again. You know, she must have been really afraid to drive again!

            I remember taking driver’s education back in high school. The first thing the instructor said to us (There were three students to the vehicle) was, “Are you afraid?” She want on to say that we should be afraid. We should be afraid every minute when we are behind the wheel. The fear will keep us sharp. The complacent driver is the one that causes the accident. Fear serves a purpose.


            In know that I have preached over and over again that we should not have fear in our lives. That is a strong message in the Bible and actually a good part of the Sermon on the Mount from Jesus. You remember? Look in Matthew 6:25 and on: “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body. . .God cares for the birds of the air, so much more God will care for His own children. . . .”

            That being said, a little bit of fear can be a good thing. You may have heard that one of our local pastors last year had an auto accident in which he hit a pedestrian at night. Thank God, she was okay after a time of recuperation. Yet, that pastor gave up driving for many weeks. He was quite afraid of getting behind the wheel again. So, that is simply living with too much fear. Like the driving instructor said, a little bit of fear will keep you attentive.

            So, it is okay to have a little bit of fear when it comes to doing what this passage in the Bible tells us to do. Just a little bit of healthy, life enhancing, heart pumping fear when letting go to land in Gods hands. It is for me the lesser of two fears: Yes, I fear falling into God’s hands, moreover I fear not falling into God’s hands but falling, and falling, and falling. So, I am not afraid of heights; I am afraid of falling! I am not afraid of being caught by God’s hands and lifted up! I am just afraid of falling in the first place.


            It is a tremendously beautiful idea of falling into the hands of God. It is like falling in love and the kind of fear and quickening of spirit we feel. I always liked that idiom of “falling in love.” So, it is good that we might “fall, in love, to God’s hands.” But still, I have to just put out one little warning about all of this: Do you all recall when Jesus was in the wilderness with Satan being tempted? Check Luke 4. The last temptation put to Jesus is what?

            “The devil took him to the pinnacle of the Temple and said to him, ‘if you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here.” Surely the angels would come to save you and lift you up again. Jesus tells Satan to take a hike! And, Satan leaves.

            Okay, this would be like that Carrie Underwood song about “Jesus Take the Wheel” again. Please, do not get in your car, start the engine, take off the brake, hit the gas and say “Jesus take the wheel.” That is a temptation from Satan.

            Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Having a little healthy fear of God is the wisest and most instructive thing! Don’t drive with your hands off the wheel. That is what Satan wants you to do. Know that God invented the steering wheel for a reason. But, if you find yourself completely out of control in your life, put that into God’s hands once more.


            Let us fall once more into God'