Summary: When you feel like giving up and that God has given up on you, you need to understand: 1. You cannot "lose" your salvation. 2. You can "reject" your salvation. 3. You must persevere.
In his book, In the Grip of Grace: When You Can’t Hang on, Bryan Chapell tells this story: “On Sunday, August 16,1987, Northwest Airlines flight 225 crashed just after taking off from the Detroit airport. One hundred fifty-five people were killed. One survived: a 4-year-old from Tempe, Arizona, named Cecelia. News accounts say when rescuers found Cecelia they did not believe she had been on the plane. Investigators first assumed Cecelia had been a passenger in one of the cars on the highway onto which the airliner crashed. But when the passenger register for the flight was checked, there was Cecelia’s name. Cecelia survived because, as the plane was falling, Cecelia’s mother, Paula Chican, unbuckled her own seat belt, got down on her knees in front of her daughter, wrapped her arms and body around Cecelia, and then would not let her go. Nothing could separate that child from her parent’s love — not tragedy or disaster, not the fall or the flames that followed, not height nor depth, not life nor death.” This is the kind of love our heavenly Father has for us. We are secure in the fact that he will do whatever is necessary to keep us near his heart. He will wrap himself around us and never let go. We are safe in him.
Through the years, as a pastor, I have known many people who did not feel this way about God. They were constantly afraid they were going to accidently slip away from God and no longer be a Christian. They would act as though they could, as they put it, “lose their salvation” at any moment. They would question whether or not they were still “saved.” It was almost as if they thought they could tick God off without realizing it. One wrong move and he would disown them. Whether they realized it or not, they saw God as unpredictable, ill-tempered and angry. He was looking for all the things that were wrong with them instead of the things that were right in them. They did not understand grace. Somehow they had never read the scripture that says, “The Lord is. . . patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
When you want to give up because you think God has given up on you, you need to understand several things. The first is: You cannot “lose” your salvation. You don’t wake up one morning and realize God is gone. I have known people who received sudden and startling bad news from their marriage partner. As far as they knew everything was fine in their marriage, when suddenly their spouse announced that they were not in love with them anymore and wanted a divorce. It came out of the blue. One day they thought they were in love and their relationship was secure, and the next day there was nothing. Some people act as though God’s love is just as uncertain and undependable. One day he finds you acceptable, and the next day he is leaving you.
You cannot “lose” your salvation. It is not like losing your keys. One minute they are in your hand and the next you cannot find them to save your life. You don’t misplace them purposely, keys just have a way of disappearing. They grow legs and go someplace where you cannot find them. Your relationship with God isn’t like that. You cannot accidently misplace it. It isn’t going to grow legs and walk away from you. If you do something wrong, God is not going to throw you away. Even in the Old Testament we find a God of infinite patience and love. The Lord passed before Moses saying, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin” (Exodus 34:6-7).
God is not against us, he is for us. His real interest is in forgiving our sin, not punishing our sin. His arms are continually stretched out toward us, inviting us to come to him. Even when we rebel and move away from him, he pursues us. Jesus said that God is like the shepherd who loses a sheep and leaves the rest of the flock to find the one who is lost. It is much harder to get away from God than you imagine, and it is impossible to just misplace him. This was the experience of the Psalm writer who said, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast” (Psalm 139:7-10). The Psalmist knew that God is always searching for us, always with us, always longing for us. His love is always pursuing us, even when we are running from him. It is our nature to run from God; it is God’s nature to pursue us wherever we go. Paul wrote: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).