Teach me Your way, O LORD, and I will walk in Your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear Your name. I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify Your name forever.” Psalm 86.11-12 NIV
A wise woman once said, “…you must learn to hold everything loosely…everything. Even your dear family. Why? Because the Father may wish to take one of them back to Himself, and when he does, it will hurt you if He must pry your fingers loose.” Those words were spoken by Corrie ten Boom upon one of her last visits to the church Charles Swindoll preaches at. Wonderful words of wisdom. If only we all had that knowledge from the get go.
Nothing tangible in this life belongs to me. Or to you. Nothing. It all belongs to God. It’s His. And yet, we have this sick tendency to hold on to every little tangible thing that we get in life, failing to see it for the blessing and gift that it is. We even try to hang on to emotions, which are as fleeting as the wind.
Even I belong to Him.
Since God is sovereign, not only is our time in His very capable hands, but our possessions and all of the people we love or care about in this life belong to Him. Releasing our rights to Him includes the deliberate submission of our grip on everything and everyone. It is easy? Never. Although, I believe it may get easier with time as we learn, or in some cases, if we learn.
And as much as we each individually would hate to admit it, we love the things we possess so much that letting go of them becomes unbearable, even impossible. The things we cherish could be material, like our first car, or relational, like a first love or a friendship that becomes dear to us. Yet, there comes a time when we must release that which steals our affection from God. We must lay it down because He demands it.
Letting go is something I struggle with daily. I’ve written about it before. I’ve even talked about it with my accountability partner, multiple times. One would think that I would have accepted this truth by now. Over the years, I’ve had hopes dashed, relationships have come and gone, beloved pets have passed away and I’ve misplaced or lost items that once held deep meaning to me. One would think that I would have accepted the truth that nothing in this life lasts. Only God. He’s the only One I can cling to and I know He won’t ever leave…even during those times when He seems distant. We must remember that He is the source of every blessing we receive in this life.
I’ll be honest and share that it is difficult for me to grasp the truth that all things belong primarily to God at times.
What do we tend to hold onto? Relationships, goals and dreams, the past, old hurts, wrong ideas and perceptions (especially those that lead us to believe that we’re not worth it), timing, possessions, and more. I’m guilty of it. The computer I do most of my research on at home belongs to Him. I worked hard to pay for that “toy,” and even though it’s a simple machine, I have a personal attachment to the thing because I’ve slaved over the keys for long periods of time. Or how about the closet full of fashionable clothing that caught my eye on the bargain rack? Or the plethora of books sitting on the bookshelf in my apartment? Or the car parked out back?
Now, I don’t believe He’ll call all of these “toys” home one day and we’ll be left with a metaphorical mechanical graveyard (a.k.a. junkyard)…God’s not interested in things. The thing is, He blessed me with the job that aided in earning the money needed to buy that machine. The job and the cash were gifts; blessings He saw fit to give me. It’s when those items become idols; when they take the place He deserves, that it becomes a problem.
Now, how about the relationships I have with my girlfriends? Even those I have with my guy friends? My family? The very things that breathe fullness into this social butterfly’s world?
Again, we must remember that He is the source of every blessing we receive in this life. When we treasure His gifts more than our relationship with the Giver, He sometimes has to strip away some of those benefits. Anything you hold too tightly, you will lose.
We get several examples of this in scripture and I would like to take notice of Abraham the day he was asked to sacrifice his son Isaac, through whom Abraham was supposed to have had descendents that outnumbered the stars in the sky. Get that? Abraham was asked to give him up. And what was his response? Obedience. God knew what He was doing and Abraham trusted Him. Completely. (See Genesis 17-22 if you are unfamiliar with the story).
I’ve been learning this the hard way (again) in this adventurous-ridden, beautiful life I’ve been given. I was given the gift of a relationship with another and I held on; probably a little too tightly at times. I tend do that… based on my own insecurities, hang-ups, the lies I’ve been told and my past. It’s twisted. And wrong. You would think a girl would learn by now after having experienced it all before. God has been testing my obedience to Him through all of this. What will be my next step; what direction is He leading me? I can’t even begin to think about the blessings that could come about because of how painful, faith-stretching and deep all of this has been. I’m focused on today; this very moment. What next?
I was driving back to Minneapolis this past weekend, my heart and gut in knots, when “This Life” by the Afters poured through the stereo system and I found myself reminded again:
…For a moment, we are here together
And it hits me that this won’t last forever
We can’t own it
We just get to hold it for a while
We can’t keep it
Or save it for another time.
What we give is all we have
How we love is what will last
And this Hope we know will carry us through this life.
How tightly do we hold on to the objects and things of this world? Would we be willing to surrender everything to God?
The obvious answer is “yes,” but when it comes to living that out, we realize how challenging that “yes” can become. It’s not just objects that can be perceived as God’s. He fearfully and wonderfully made each human being that has ever walked the face of this terrestrial planet. Each one of us. Are we willing to give Him our relationships day in and day out; to trust Him with their fragility? Are we even willing to give ourselves to Him each and every day? After all, He gave us breath and the bodies we have. He’s the only source that keeps us living.
We’d be wise to start practicing what Corrie ten Boom counseled above. “Remember…hold everything loosely…everything.” We must surrender all things to God.
It’s hard and we often reclaim ourselves. I do it all the time. Will I ever learn? By God’s grace, I believe I will.
When we surrender ourselves and all that we are and have to God, then we have everything in its right place.
Is He the most important person in your life? Don’t fixate on your own objectives, your own dreams and relationships and thereby miss out on His blessings and purpose for you.
I pray that you’ll choose to make Him a priority. Open your hands and let Him have what you tend to hold on to; to cling to. We would be wise to hold loosely the things of this world and cling tightly to Him. No person can love you (or me) the way He does and no material thing can satisfy the deep longings of your heart.
When we allow God the place He’s meant to have (that of our first love), the blessings will flow beyond what we can even comprehend.
I cling to You; Your strong right hand upholds me. Psalm 63.8
Cling to Him and hold everything else loosely.
Hold tightly to Him only.