Summary: This message focuses on the son "Hold to God's Unchanging Hand" by Jennie B. Wilson.
Songs Of Our Faith Part 1
“Hold To God’s Unchanging Hand”
Scriptures: Psalm. 89:13; James 1:17; Rev. 21:1; Prov. 3:5-6; 1 Tim. 6:17; Phil. 1:23
The last time that I stood before you I shared with you the song, “We’ve Come This Far By Faith” that I learned as a child. It has been three weeks since I have stood before you and during this time I have reflected on that message and what that song means to me. This led me to think of other songs that I learned as a young Christian that helped developed my faith in God. This morning I am starting a series I am titling “Songs of Our Faith” through which I will share with you some of the songs that helped develop my faith and the faith of those who have gone home before me. I will also during this series ask some of you to step up and share with the congregation a song you may have learned as a young Christian that has impacted your life. Even though many Churches do not sing the old hymns I grew up singing, there are other songs that you have heard that has had an impact on your life and this is what I will be asking you to share out with us. This will be the first step as we begin to learn to share our experiences with others. This morning we will examine the song, “Hold To God’s Unchanging Hand.”
I. The Author
I grew up hearing and singing these songs without ever knowing much about the author. This particular song was written by Jennie Bain Wilson. I want to share a little with you about her so that you might understand the words of this song from her viewpoint. Jennie Bain Wilson was born in 1857 and died in 1913 at the age of 56. She was afflicted with a spinal condition at the age of four and spent the rest of her life in a wheelchair. She never attended school but was educated at home. She is believed to have written over 2,200 texts including some 685 songs. I do not have to tell you about what her life could have been like in the mid 1800s. She did not have the modern conveniences that we so easily take for granted. She did not have running water; indoor plumbing; electricity; iPods; computers; cars, etc. She spent her life watching others do what she could not do – walk, run and play. Her life was spent in a wheelchair. This is the person who wrote the words telling us that we should hold to God’s unchanging hand. Instead of being bitter about her condition, she turned her focus to God. As we examine this song, think about the words coming from someone bound to a wheelchair for over 50 years and ask yourself would you have reached the same conclusion that she did.
II. The Meaning of the Title
As I thought about this song I spent some time thinking about the title, “Hold to God’s Unchanging Hand” and what the title means. We all understand what it means to hold on to something with our hands or with our emotions. We also know how easily and how frequently this changes as we walk through life. But focus on what the title says, hold to God’s unchanging hand. Focus on the word “unchanging.” This word means exactly what it says, that God’s hand does not change. So let me give you a natural example to help you understand a spiritual concept.
When my daughters were small and we were out in public I would often hold their hands as parents do with their kids. As a child their hand would fit totally within my hand and sometimes my hand would envelop their small hand. As they grew, their hands changed. As their hands changed it changed how I could hold them. The bigger they got the larger their hands became as you would expect. Because my hands could no longer envelop theirs I began to hold their hand like I would hold another adult’s hand. When they were small they could not shift their hands within mine because my hand was so much larger than theirs. As their hands became larger, they could shift how their hands were held and positioned in my hands. So as they changed, their hands changed with them. This is not what the title to this song implies.
Nikki and I have been together as a couple since June of 1980. When we started dating Nikki’s hands were pretty much the size they are now. I have been holding her hands for over 32 years and it has not changed. I know what her hands feel like and no other hand feels the same in my hand as hers do. When we hold hands we do it a certain way and we do it without thinking. This is what this title implies when it says hold to God’s unchanging hand. It is holding to a hand (and therefore a person) that is not changing. The grip you have will be the grip you always have. As you hold to His hand He will likewise hold to yours. In the prophecy found in Malachi 3:6a, God says the following, “For I the Lord do not change….” James, the brother of Jesus, made the following statement in James 1:17: “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” James is confirming that God does not change. There is only light within Him and no darkness. If you recall, when we move our shadow follows us and moves when we move. This is symbolic of what does not happen with God. He does not move from His promises to us. He does not move from His love for us. He does not move from His grace towards us. Because He does not move, we can hold to His unchanging hand. His hand is unchanging because His desires and purposes for us do not change. When we get mad at each other we do not want to hold hands and in that action we change towards the person we are mad at. This is not how God operates and the song reinforces that God’s hand is unchanging so therefore we should hold it tight. Let’s examine the first verse of the song. For those of you who do not know or may never have heard this song you can probably Google it or find a version of it on YouTube.