Devotional: No, Never AloneWho will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. -Romans 8:35, 38-39 (NRSV)
Hello! This is DisciplesNet's Senior Pastor Deb Phelps here. We are glad to bring you this video of “No, Never Alone,” an old hymn favorite sung here by a group of volunteers.
Whether this song is an old favorite or completely new (as it was to most of our singers), we hope that you will enjoy listening to it, sing along if you’d like, and pass it along to others who might like to hear it. We pray that as you play this video you find reassurance of God’s love and constant presence with you, whatever challenges and struggles you face today.
I would also like to let you know that this song has very special meaning to my family; we call it “Terry’s Song.” Keep reading and you will find a devotional by that name that I wrote about it in 2004.
For some of you, this song may have a similar special meaning from your past, or it may have special meaning now. If that is the case, we hope that you will tell others around you about this, or write a devotional to share. We welcome hearing from you! You can write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our mission at DisciplesNet is to try to share the presence of Christ with people who may feel disconnected from the church, or who simply like being part of a church that is available on the internet 24/7. We are glad you are here, and offer our prayers for you today. May God bring you peace.
In Christ’s love,
Pastor Deb Phelps
The other day I asked my husband, “What percent of soccer moms do you think take their kids to a house of God each week?” The question was more rhetorical than anything else. The term soccer mom was a popular one at the time in the United States. Many saw it as describing middle to upper-income parents who were constantly on the go for their children, trying to do every good thing they could find to do for their child. They would drive their progeny to and from soccer games and piano practices, karate, ballet and language lessons, school meetings and birthday sleepovers, math and reading tutoring and on and on and on. All of this was to make sure that their children were not slighted on any good thing they may need or want, and would therefore grow up to be happy, capable adults.
Now, not every family can afford a 7-passenger SUV or whatever type of lesson is desired. But that does not make their love any less for their children or their lives any less frenzied. I work with teens who are the objects of their parents’ harried condition, and sometimes wonder: What guides parents to judge and choose what is most important in their children’s upbringing? How do they prioritize what is important and what is not? What is the most important lesson parents can provide their children?
In the high school where I teach, most of the parents and guardians of my students cannot afford the best cars or expensive lessons. Although they too, have frenzied lives--sometimes from working several jobs--I have seen many of these parents raise children who are very, very rich in faith in God and in a sense of who they are. Others, as is true as well of their wealthier counterparts, leave their offspring in desperate want. The richness I am talking about has little to do with money.
These thoughts led me me to think of Terry. Terry was the older brother I never met. Shortly before his third birthday he died in a tragic fire. I had grown up hearing of how my mother, seven-months pregnant, had been visiting the next door neighbor, and was standing in the driveway talking while Terry and the neighbor’s two small boys played right next to them in the attached garage.
Then the unthinkable happened. The oldest boy came running out at the same moment the garage exploded into flames. When Mom looked at where the children had been playing, she caught a glimpse of Terry standing at the back of the garage, and rushed through the flames to get him and bring him out. But it was too late. Terry died a few hours later, as did the neighbor’s 2-year old son. The oldest boy, thought to have turned over a can of gasoline that started the fire, had come out unscathed.
In just an instant my parents’ first born—outgoing, loving and precocious—was gone. My mother, critically burned, lay near death in the hospital. Neither she nor her unborn child were expected to make it. The memorial service for Terry came and went. Whether Terry had been up to date on all of his immunizations, had the right shoes or haircut, could say his ABCs or read books meant absolutely nothing. What helped hold my family together in these times was the memory of Terry’s song.
My mother had taken Terry to church from the time he was an infant. Dad wouldn’t go along then, but Mom felt it too important for them to miss, so she and Terry would go by themselves. Back home, Terry loved to sing the songs he had heard at church. My mother, and grandmother when she was visiting, would often rock Terry to sleep singing favorite hymns.
As my family grieved for Terry and my mother spent painful months in the hospital, one vivid memory brought great comfort. They remembered how Terry would climb into the rocking chair when no one was in the room, then get the chair rocking back and forth. In rhythm with the chair, Terry would sing happily at the top of his little voice, “No, no, not alone; no, no, not alone.” This was the little boy’s version of the popular hymn, No, Never Alone that he’d heard in church and from his mother and grandmother. The chorus includes, “He promised never to leave us, never to leave us alone.”
A saying goes that if children learn to love God, they will love to learn about God. Terry had loved to learn about God from church and from his mother and grandmother. Now my family was comforted to know that Terry had gotten the most important thing out of his young life: a clear understanding of God’s love and constant presence with him.
The family knew beyond doubt that Terry was indeed not alone, but in the arms of his heavenly Father. And Terry’s song, with its promise of God’s eternal presence, helped sustain my mother and other family members through their grief and pain.
After long months in the hospital, countless skin grafts, and agonizing burn treatments, Mom finally came home to join her infant daughter who had miraculously been born alive and healthy in hospital's burn ward. A little more than two years later my twin sister and I came along, followed by a little brother.
Throughout my life, I cannot remember us ever not going to church. Attendance was unquestioned, a given. My father even started attending with us, came to know God, was baptized, and became active in the church.
Like most moms, including “soccer moms,” my mother tried her best to give her children the most important things in life. I thank God for what she chose as most important among all other lessons. Those same lessons Terry learned in his short years have helped sustain me, as well, through life’s trials and triumphs.
Parents are not given the vision of how long their children will be on this earth. Whether they make it days, months, years, or to a ripe old age, what lessons must we teach our children? Algebra? Ballet? Soccer? Art? The love of God and God’s presence throughout life? What lessons are most important of all?
Go. Find a way to get there. Find a faithful church that lives out God’s love, and enter its doors often. Bring others you care about with you. Worship, celebrate, and fellowship with God’s people. Come to a deeper knowledge of God’s love and plans for you. Forgive, as God forgives the human failings that you are certain to find there. Carry the good with you into the world.
And you know what will you find? Each moment you spend in God’s presence will but deepen your understanding of what God wants you desperately to know: the promise for all time, never to leave you alone, whether here on earth—or for all of eternity.
-Deborah Phelps, Sept. 2004