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Because of the new “slimmed down” version of myself, for the past several months I have alternated wearing two sets of jeans. They were the only pants that fit. On Sundays, or on other occasions when I wanted to wear something more than casual, Jill would tie a string or a shoelace to the back belt loops of my pants. This served to make me look less emaciated and more presentable, as well as to protect me from a potential embarrassing moment! Well, this past Sunday, and throughout last week, I have been able to wear clothes per normal—no strings attached. Literally.

My weight is only a couple of kilograms shy of my pre-pancreatitis days and life is pretty much back to normal. Though, in a couple of weeks, I will have a simple (?) procedure to remove two stents from a liver duct, all seems well. I am grateful to God, with no strings attached.

When facing difficult times, humans have a sad history of trying to make a deal with God. If he will deliver us from our trouble, then we will _______. You can fill in the blank. I remember doing that on a couple of occasions in high school. I had gotten myself into a corner and so I told the Lord that, if he got me out of it, I would serve him. Well, he graciously rescued me, and I subsequently lost my memory about the commitment. I have no doubt the Lord dismissed my attempt to con him. He knew that the strings I had attached to the deal would never hold up. But, by God’s grace, I have come a long way since the 1970s. Rather, he has brought me a long way.

When the Lord radically changed my life in early 1980, I began to serve the Lord with no strings attached. Being well-discipled by Bill Graves, I came to appreciate something about the lordship of Jesus Christ over my life. I often heard the familiar refrain: “If Jesus is not Lord of all, then he is not Lord at all.” In other words, believers are not in a position, nor should they entertain the disposition, of withholding from Jesus Christ what he has purchased with his own blood. Not bad theology for a bunch of college kids.

We have been reminded in our studies in Job of how he understood early on that the Lord gives and takes away, blessed be his name (1:20–22). When his wife tempted him to curse God and die, he responded, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips” (Job 2:10). Do you see it? Job understood that believers are to serve God with no strings attached. As Job’s suffering subsequently increased, putting pressure on his faith, he never tried to “make a deal” with God. We should learn from his example, including his painful (and eventual productive) perseverance, what it means to follow the Lord with no strings attached.

The Christian rejects a self-serving, strings-attached commitment to Christ because he has graciously attached himself to us. He is the one who is able to keep us from falling (Jude 24–25). He is the one who upholds all things by the word of his power (Hebrews 1:3). He and the Father are the ones who save and keep us, for as Jesus said to his disciples, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one” (John 10:27–30). And for this reason, we hang on to him with both affectionate devotion and with life changing commitment. No strings attached.

Persevering with you