To Have & Not Hold

AAAhhold

by Randi Peck

I sit on my couch, holding my newborn son. My heart feels like it will explode, it is so full.  I watch my beautiful daughter enthusiastically swaddle and “shush” her dolly to sleep.  I share a glance with my husband that communicates more love than many women receive in an entire lifetime.  Our friends have just surprised us with a kitchen full of groceries, to welcome us home from the hospital.  I couldn’t be more blessed.

And then, my throat begins to tense in anxiety.  I start praying… worrying… wondering: When will the “too-good-to-be-true-card” get drawn?  Surely, we are down to the bottom of our deck, and it’s in there somewhere.  I try to cherish these gifts more, in hopes that God will lease them to me longer.  Then I try to love this life less, so perhaps I won’t need to be “taught a lesson”.

Why is it that my joy is so often robbed, in the height of these moments when I love my life so dearly?  Why is it that I cannot just enjoy the goodness?  

It is because I have begun to hold on.  I have begun to believe the lie that these precious, joyous gifts I have been entrusted with are the key to my happiness, rather than the overflow of God’s goodness.  

“Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.”
-Luke 17:33

On my wedding day, I vowed “to have and to hold” my husband, through thick and thin, in sickness and in health.  I can do that.  I can cling to this man who offers me deeper friendship and greater affection than any other person ever has.  This is no sacrifice.  I can also easily hold tightly to my children- they are an extension of my heart.  

What I did not factor into my wedding vows, was a more binding vow I made to my Eternal Love:  A vow to love Him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength.  A vow to lay down all I have been given and take up my cross.  A vow to let go of this world, and hold only to the One who holds me. 

This appears to be such a great requirement!  I thought your yoke was easy, Lord?  I cry, Where is my security, my insurance policy… the guarantee that I will not lose my loved ones?  The assurance that tragedy will not strike?  In heaven… My assurance is in heaven, sealed by the blood of Christ.

For even as Jesus responded to Peter, when asked, “See, we have left everything and followed you.  What then will we have?”  Jesus says: “Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or fathers or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.” (Matthew 19)

I know my Lord enough to know that He is good.  He has proven His Word is true.  I know He is the ultimate joy and prize.  So in great sacrifice, I offer him what I hold dear- my family, my marriage, my health, my plans, my comfort, my body, my safety, my relationships, my sleep…  Daily, I strive to let go of life on this earth.  He knows my surrender is a work in progress, never entirely pure in motive.  Often it sounds more like, “Fine, take it” than a joyful offering. Nevertheless, I attempt to lose my life- that I might keep it.

The great irony is, with each “giving up”, I am given more.  With each “sacrifice”, I am filled to overflowing.  With each “letting go”, I can feel the Lord’s arms tighten around me in love and security… Not because He is actually holding me tighter or favoring me more when I let go, but because I am no longer pre-occupied holding on.  

Each time I hold on to anything or anyone other than Jesus Christ, I am restricted and weighed down with anxiety.  But when I hold on to Him, I find that in losing my freedom, I gain my freedom.  In losing our lives, we truly do find them.  We don’t lose the joy of all of our blessings, we find greater joy as they rest in their designated place and purpose- in God’s hands, for his glory!

“You keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you,” Isaiah 26:3

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