Every newborn with normal reflexes closes his hand over an offered finger. We start life grasping, and some of us don’t let go until our fingers are stilled. Why is it so hard to let go? It seems that as soon as I tear something out of my grasp, I find myself holding on to something else.
My grandchildren beg me to read a parable series about a raccoon named Adam and a lion, King Aren. In Adam Raccoon in Lost Woods, Adam gathers a heavy load of his possessions for their day in the woods, even though the king assures him he has prepared everything, and Adam’s stuff would only get in his way. Besides ruining the day, Adam’s ‘treasures’ put him in danger. After the king rescues him, Adam realizes the only thing he needs to hold on to is King Aron’s hand.
It’s a simple story, a simple lesson.
After eight years in Honduras, where people even save bottle caps to make shoe scrapers, and we had few possessions by US standards, I’ve tended to hold onto things I’m not using, but ‘might need someday’.
However, right now my closets and attic are overflowing with boxes of my mother’s that require sorting. They are the wake-up call I need to lean my stuff. ‘Piles to sort’ is not the legacy I want to leave to my children.
So I’m really trying to let go of things.
When trials come, whether huge ones like 911, or more personal ones like cancer striking a family member, it’s as if the lights come on. I see that what I’ve been holding onto isn’t keeping me safe, or whole, or loved. Like a kid with a rabbit’s foot, the stuff’s not really giving me what I need.
And there’s the rub.
“If you ask for things from life instead of from God, you ask amiss…” My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers
The strong bond between me and my stuff, as well as comfortable emotional states that no longer serve my life, reveal what I cling to for security. For years, God has been prying my white-knuckled hands off one idol after another.
This day, I surrender, once again, and reaffirm my desire to hold on to nothing but His hand.
Is there a habit of mind, a comfortable emotion, a special collection, any objects or patterns of life that are getting in the way of holding on to the only hand that can save you?