A recent news story told of a couple from California, Floyd & Violet Hartwig, who died within hours of each other while holding hands. They had been married 67 years and had previously expressed their desire to die together. As their health declined in recent years they were eventually placed in hospice care. Sensing that the end was near, family members pushed their hospice beds together and placed Floyd’s hand into Violet’s hand. Floyd passed away holding his wife’s hand, and five hours later, Violet passed away, still holding her husband’s hand.
A story like this moves us because so many marriages end far short of the 67 years that Floyd & Violet attained. This kind of story moves us also because it is a testament to love and fidelity that is far too uncommon in our world. Sometimes the spark of love that gave birth to marriage fades over time, even among those who remain married to the same spouse for many years. How sad it is, as the old Everly Brothers song said, “To watch good love go bad.”
The true love and faithfulness shown by Floyd & Violet reminds us of the kind of love our Lord has for us. His promise of faithfulness is summed up by the words of His Father which are quoted in Heb. 13:6. The Lord God said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.” That promise has stood since the time of Moses, and will remain in effect until God takes us home to heaven at the end of time. Yet, it has been an unchangeable part of God’s character from the beginning of time.
Ever since the Lord God put Adam and Eve into the Garden of Eden His desire has been to have close fellowship with us. The scriptures suggest that God often came and walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden in the cool of the day (Gen. 3:8). He kept doing so until their sin made it impossible for this close fellowship to continue. Even then, however, God made provision to restore that fellowship. He promised Adam and Eve that He would send enmity to stand between Satan and the woman and between his seed and her seed (Gen. 3:15). That enmity was Jesus Christ, whose blood paid the ransom for our sins.
When we obey the gospel by being immersed into Christ for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16), our fellowship with God is restored. We then, as His children, walk hand in hand with our older brother, Jesus, on our way toward our heavenly reward. In Amos 3:3 God reminded Israel of what it takes to do so. He said, “Do two walk together unless they have agreed to meet?” (ESV). The implication of this statement is that we cannot walk hand in hand with our Lord unless we have agreed to follow Him in accordance with His word.
The bottom line is that we cannot walk our own way and remain hand in hand with the Lord. In Prov. 16:25 Solomon said, “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (Jn. 14:6). Therefore, in order to be assured that we will arrive at heaven at the end of time, we must walk with our Lord, holding His hand by our obedience to His word. The Lord loved us so much that He freely gave His life on the cross to give us the opportunity for salvation. The least we can do is take His hand and follow in His footsteps all the way to heaven, faithful until death, so we will receive the crown of life (Rev. 2:10).