Week of Monday, November 15 ­– Sunday, November 21
Hold Fast – Man as Battle Buddy
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” — Hebrews 10:23-25 ESV
One stormy summer morning, Ray Blankenship was looking out his window while he was making breakfast and saw a small girl being swept along in the rain-flooded drainage ditch beside his Andover, Ohio, home. Blankenship knew that farther downstream, the ditch disappeared with a roar underneath a road, then emptied into the main culvert, which would result in disaster. Ray dashed out the door and raced along the ditch, trying to get ahead of the foundering child. Then he hurled himself into the deep, churning water. Blankenship surfaced and was able to grab the child’s arm. Within about three feet of the yawning culvert, his free hand felt something, a rock or root protruding from the bank.
Ray clung desperately, but the tremendous force of the water tried to tear him and the child away. “If I can just hang on until help comes,” he thought. He did better than that. By the time fire-department rescuers arrived, Blankenship had pulled the girl to safety. Ray Blankenship was awarded the Coast Guard’s Silver Lifesaving Medal. The award is fitting, for this selfless person was at even greater risk to himself than most people knew. Ray Blankenship couldn’t swim![1]
 This man holding fast to save a vulnerable life is a picture of our task as Battle Buddies. As we witness some of our guy friends being swept downstream, we must reach out and with one hand “hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering” (v. 23) and with the other hand hang onto our battle buddy for dear life so that we don’t lose him to the godless culture. That was happening to some of the Hebrew believers. Things were getting tough, hostility was growing, persecution was escalating, and many were bailing out. Some were no longer gathering with the church. They were walking away.
 Even with most churches re-opened after the pandemic, experts who watch church trends predict that many members may not come back. They are in a habit of staying home and watching online, but even that may not last. Some may be gone from the church for good. Don’t let that happen to your battle buddy and his family. As the writer of Hebrews urges: “…consider how to stir up one another to love and good works…encouraging one another” (v. 24-25). Be that guy who calls up your absentee battle buddy and tells him that you missed him and expect to see him and his family this week in church—unless he has a good reason. In fact, offer to take them to lunch afterward. Regardless of your plan, hang onto that battle buddy and don’t let him slip away. There’s too much at stake. In this battle for faith, family, and freedom, we need all hands on deck.
 As a matter of fact, the saying “hold fast” (v. 23) comes from Norwegian and Dutch sailors. As their ship plowed through stormy seas, heaving up and down, waves crashing in, endangering those aboard, the call went out to “houd vast” meaning “hold tight.” The Greek phrase here in Hebrews literally means to “continue firmly” in the confession of our hope. The implication is “hold on and don’t turn loose of it.” Hold fast to your hope in Christ with all your heart and hold fast to your battle buddy with all your might and don’t turn loose.
 Certainly, the Lord holds onto us. As a matter of fact, the writer of Hebrews later encourages us with this great promise: “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5 ESV). The U.S. military has made a sacred commitment to leave no one behind on the battlefield. This ethos is embedded in the Ranger Creed: “I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy.” We must do the same for our battle buddies. So men, hang on to your battle buddy and to the promise of God’s presence, which brings hope. Hold fast!

  • What practical ways can you “hold fast” to your faith without wavering and hold onto your family and your battle buddies at the same time?
  • As you consider your guy friends who are in the faith, do you sense that some may be on their way out the door of church involvement? Maybe some have already hit the exits. What game plan can you make to “stir up” and “encourage” that irregular or missing battle buddy?
  • Ask for God to grant you discernment to assess where your battle buddy really is spiritually and for the words to speak and actions to take that might bring him back into the fold.
[1] Ray Blankenship story attributed to Paul Harvey, LA Times Syndicate