No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in
him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.
-1 John 3:9
We lived in Dallas, Texas, for twelve years, from 1973 to 1985. Our daughter Melanie was born in 1978. Although it was an annual event, we had not taken her to the Texas State Fair until 1984. Even then, we were somewhat reluctant to go. There had been a rash of child abductions in the Dallas – Ft. Worth area during the course of the year and most parents, like my wife and I, were concerned for their children’s welfare. The Dallas Morning News issued a warning to parents that, should they attend the State Fair, they should be extremely cautious and keep close watch over their kids.
Needless to say, Ann and I were extremely careful with Melanie that day. She was only six years old, but she was pretty stubborn for her age. Everywhere we went on the midway she saw something she wanted. Whether it was cotton candy or a clown or a game throwing balls at milk cans, she ran toward it with reckless abandon. Each time I pulled her aside and said, “Melanie, you simply can’t do that. You must stay right here with me and mom. Don’t run off like that. It’s not safe.”
It worked for a while, but then we walked past another sideshow she wanted to experience, and off she went again. I could no longer afford to let her run free, so I took hold of her hand and applied a firm grip. On numerous occasions she tried to pull free. She yelled at me to walk faster. She struggled to break free of my grip so she could run first, into the Fun House, and then onto the roller coaster. She pulled and pulled, drawn as she was by the lights and sounds and promises of thrill rides and delicious candy.
Each time she sought to pull away, my grip intensified. I knew what possibly awaited her if I were to let go of her hand. Was I irritated by her demands to be set free? Yes. Was I disappointed that she so lightly regarded my commitment to protect her from obvious dangers and potential threats to her life? Yes. Was I, for those or any other reasons, in the least way inclined to let go of her hand and let her have her way? Not for a single, solitary second! My love for her and my commitment to her safety and my devotion to her welfare never altered, never wavered, never diminished in the slightest degree.
But let’s suppose I had chosen to do otherwise. Let’s imagine that in my growing frustration with her willful ways I finally reached the end of my patience and said: “O.K. Have it your way. I’ve done all I can. I’ve done all I’m allowed to do. After all, it’s your life. Go ahead and run off to your worldly pleasures.” And then I let go of her hand, releasing her to horrid possibilities that I had rather not describe.
What would you think of me then? What kind of father would you consider me to be? A reprehensible wretch? Yes! A heartless father unwilling to do whatever was necessary to overcome the resistance of his child and preserve her from fatal harm? Yes!
If I, being as I am a selfish sinner, would go to every length possible to preserve my precious little girl and protect her from fatal harm, how much more will your Heavenly Father, being as he is a glorious and loving and good savior, preserve and protect and sustain you in his arms! Am I more loving than God? Am I willing to do for my child what He is unwilling to do for His?
One of the greatest mistakes made by those who deny the perseverance of the saints is in focusing on the strength of our will to rebel rather than the strength of God’s commitment to preserve us in faith.